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Rabbi* s 



English rendition by 


The Lubavitcher Rabbi's 
Memoirs are a veritable treas- 
ure chest of Chassidic learn- 
ing 1 and lore, of anecdotes, 
historical annotations and 
commemorations, and repre- 
sent the very best of informal 
writing 1 from the prolific pen 
of the late leader of the 
Chabad-Lubavitch movement, 
the very eminent Rabbi 
Joseph I. Schneersohn. 

Known and unknown fig- 
ures from the past, scholars 
and cobblers, princes and 
dreamers and giants of the 
spirit rise before our eyes 
to convey the niessHp-e of 
inspiration, wholehearted de- 
votion and all-out dedication 
that characterized Chassidic 
Jewish life in the small and 
larg-e centers of Eastern 

(Continued on back flap) 


DDD1 03131m H 


296 SJ5L v.i 68-58128 


Lubavitcher Rabbi's Memoirs 

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English Rendition 




PREFACE . vii-viii 








LOVE" 1-29 

Jewish Towns and Townlets. The Founder of Lubavitch. 
The Oldest Beth Hamidrash. When Robbers Terror- 
ized the Forests Around Lubavitch. Benjamin the Mystic 
and his Friend Wolfe. The Rabbi of Lubavitch. 


The Baal-Shem-Tov as a Mystic. Lubavitch as a Center of 
Chassidism. Secret Visits to the Baal-Shem-Tov. Healing 
of the Body and Healing of the Soul. A Chassidic Doctrine. 


Ancestry of the Founder of Chabad Chassidism. Rabbi 
Moses of Posen Settles in Vitebsk. The Orphan Baruch and 
his Trials. The Power of Faith. Baruch's Secret Revealed. 


Jewish Honesty. The Smith's Scholarly Sons-in-law. 
Torah and Labor. Baruch Finds himself at Home. 


Baruch Visits his Home Town. His Learned Brother-in- 
law. The Virtuous Fisherman Avreml. 


Baruch Meets Former Employer. Marriage Proposal and 
Baruch's Conditions. Baruch's Self-Searching. The Cheer- 
ful Pauper. 


The Remarkable "Shamash" who Impressed Baruch Con- 
siderably. The Beth Hamidrash in the Market Place. 
The Miller and Other Typical Country Folk. Men of 
Learning and Men of Action. A Painful Incident. 


An Extraordinary Jew. A Libel that Failed. The Apple 
that Fell Far from the Tree. 

CONTENTS (Continued) 

IX, COBBLER OF VITEBSK . . . . 135-154 

The Scholar who Became a Cobbler.- The Star-Gazer of 
Hatimka. The Red-Headed Cohen. Baruch Seeks out 
More M ys tics. 


The Innkeeper who was a Disciple of the Baal-Shem-Tov. - 
Yeshivah Student who Turns Inventor. The Chassidic 
Son-in-law of the Smith of Dobromysl. Baruch Learns 
More About the Bstal-Shem-Tov's Teachings. 


The Swedish Prince who was a Jew. Expulsion of Vitebsk 
Jews Averted. -Founders of the Vitebsk Community.- 
Minsk a Center of Torah. 


Deborah a Brilliant Torah Scholar. Vitebsk in the Throes 
of Russo-Polish War. Deborah's Influence in Vitebsk. A 
Blessing of Life for Life. A Yeshivah Bearing a Woman's 


"The Doves" of Nemerov. Sole Survivor Returns to the 
Scene of the Massacre. The "Old Saint" who was Revered 
by Non-Jews. 


In the Wake of the Russo-Polish War. The Outstanding 
Talmudists of Old Vilna. The "Rich Pauper." 


DOBROMYSL 226-238 

A Plague of Divorces. Jewish Life in Dobromysl. Influx 
of Torah Scholars. The Undemonstrative Father. 


The Smart Boy who Averted a Blood Libel. "Neshamah 
Candles." Miraculous End to Another Blood Libel. 


The Young Man who Could Not Tolerate Conceit. The 
Scribe of Dobromysl. Sacred Trust. 


The Tyrannical Squire and His Jew-Baiting Overseer. A 
Cancelled Order for Snow-Boots. The Squire Reformed. 


A Chassid Befriends a Lost Soul. Yearning for a Scholarly 
Son-in-law. Humble Veterinary who Rises to Fame. A 
Lesson in Love for Dumb Creatures. Chassidic Father and 
Son. Rabbi Adam Baal-Shem. 



In Yiddish in serial form in the Jewish Morning Journal of New York 
from October 7, 1940 to February 23, 1942, and subsequently, for the 
most part, in book form in 1947. The first part of these Memoirs is now- 
published in the present volume in a free and concise English rendition. 

For the benefit of the reader I have added The Line of Chabad 
Chassidic Tradition, Biographical Data and the list of Published Works 
by the Lubavitcher Rabbi K'D'to. 

Grateful acknowledgment is herewith tendered to Dr, Nissan Mindel, 
author and scholar, for the English rendition and glossary which he has 
executed with great ability and devotion. 



Chairman, Board of Editors 
Kislev 10, 5709, Brooklyn, N. Y. 


Since the Preface to the first Edition was Written, the author, Rabbi 
Joseph Isaac Scbneersohn, of saintly memory, passed away on the tenth 
day of Shevat, 5710. He was succeeded by his son-in-law, the present 
Lubavitcher Rabbi, Rabbi Menacbem M. Scbneerson H"Ta n "2\B. 

The first two editions having been exhausted, and in view of the 
considerable demand for the "Memoirs," we are publishing this volume 
in its third edition. 


Tamuz 12-13, 5716, Brooklyn, N. Y. 



The summer* of 5705 (194$) marked a three-fold jubilee in the 
life and work of my venerable father-in-law, Rabbi Joseph Isaac Schneer- 
sohn, the Lubavitcher Rabbi K^Stf : 

a) the completion of fifty years of public service as a leader in 

b) the Twenty-fifth Anniversary of^ his leadership as the Head 
of the Chabad movement, being the eighth in the line of succession to 
Rabbi Israel Baal-Shem-Tov, founder of Chassidism, and 

c) the Eighteenth Anniversary of his release from prison in Soviet 
Russia, where he was imprisoned as a result of his relentless championship 
of Torah and Judaism* 

In connection with this memorable jubilee, the Editorial Board of 
**Otzar Hachassidim" undertook to publish a series of commemorative 
publications from the harvest of the Lubavitcher Rabbi's K^to^E? pen. 
These include a series of dissertations in Hebrew and Yiddish, collections 
of pastoral letters and messages, public addresses and talks (Sicbot) , and, 
last but not least, memoirs, published with the authorization of the 
Lubavitcher 'Rabbi K"D^* 

The "Memoirs" reveal an important phase in Jewish history in recent 
centuries, and, particularly, in the history of Chassidism. They portray 
a gallery of Jews who paved the way for the founders of the movement, 
and who, as Nistarim (scholars and mystics in disguise) , prepared the 
ground for the movement to take root and flourish. 

The material on which the "Memoirs" are based represents an ac- 
cumulation of memoranda preserved in the family archives or in the oral 
tradition of the Lubavitcher Rabbis since the time of Rabbi Shneur 
Zalman of Liady, founder of Chabad Chassidism. 

* * * 

The present volume of the LUBAVITCHER RABBI'S MEMOIRS repre- 
sents a part of his notes which he wrote in Hebrew since his arrival in 
the U. S. A. in 1940. The Memoirs ("Lichronoth) were first published 

* Tammuz 12-13 





Elul 18, 5458 Sivan 6, 5S20 

(1658 1760) 


(Date of birth unknown) Kisiev 19, 5533 

( ? - 1772) 


EM 18, 5505 Teveth 24, 5573 

(1745 1812) 



(the son of Rabbi Shneur Zalman) 

Kisiev 9, 5534 Kisiev 9, 5588 

(1773 _ 1827) 


(grandson of Rabbi Shneur Zalman; son-in-law of Rabbi Dovber) 

Elul 29, 5549 Nissan 13, 5626 

(1789 U66) 



(son of Rabbi Menachem Mendel) 

lyar 2, 5594 Tishrei 13, 5643 

(1834 igga) 


(son of Rabbi, Shmuel) 

Cheshvan 20, 5621 Nissan 2, 5680 

(1860 1920) 


(son of Rabbi Sholom Dovber) 

Tammuz 12, 5640 Shevat 10, 5710 

(1880 1950) 



(sixth in direct paternal line from Rabbi Menachem Mendel; 

son-in-law of Rabbi Joseph Isaac) 

Born Nissan 11, 5662 (1902) 

X" D *>*? ff 





Rabbi Joseph I. Schneersohn *? X T was born on Tammuz 12, 5640 
(1880) in Lubavitch, Russia. At the age of 15 he begins to participate 
in the ramified public activities of his illustrious father, the late Luba- 
vitcher Rabbi, Rabbi Sholom Dovber.** In 565 8 he is appointed admin- 
istrator of the Yeshivah Tomche-Tmimim. In 5666 he undertakes a 
trip abroad and succeeds in obtaining the intervention of influential 
circles to stop the pogroms on Jews in Russia. In 5680, after the demise 
of his father on Nissan 2, he accepts the leadership of the Chabad hier- 
archy. In 5681, he organizes a ramified activity throughout Russia for 
the strengthening of Torah and Judaism. In 5684, founds the Agudas 
Chassidei Chabad of the U. S. A. and Canada. On Sivan 15, 5687, he 
was arrested for his work, as a result of a denunciation by the "Yev~ 
sektsia," but is released on Tammuz 12-13. In 5688, he takes up resi- 
dence in Riga, capital of the Latvian Republic. In 5689-90 he visits 
the Holy Land, and afterwards the United States of America. In 5694, 
he takes up residence in Warsaw, and subsequently in Otwock, Poland. 
In 5699, founds the World Agudas Chassidei Chabad. 

On Adar II, 9, 5700, he arrives in New York; founds the United 
Lubavitcher Yeshivoth Tomche-Tmimim of the U. S. A. and Canada. 
In 5701, the monthly magazine "Hakeriah Vehakedushah" makes its first 
appearance; founds the "Machne Israel** organization. In 5702, estab- 
lishes the "Kehot Publication Society"; creates the central organization 

* For more details see Hayom Yom, p. 9; Some Aspects of Chabad Chassidism, 
Brooklyn, 5703; Rabbi Joseph L Schneersohn, Biographical Sketch, Brooklyn, 5708; 
published by the Kehot Publication Society. 

** Short biographical data will be found in Ch&noch Lanaar f published by Kehot 
Publication Society, Brooklyn, 5703. 

for Jewish education "Merkos Llnyonei Chinuck" In 5703* he es- 
tablishes the "Otzar Library." In 5704 S the "Kovetz Luba- 
vitz" periodical makes its first appearance; founds the "BIkkur Cholim 89 
society; the "NiChoaCh" (Nigunet CbassMei Chabad) organiza- 
tion for the collection and promotion of Chabad melodies. In 5705 S 
organizes the "Adenu*" group for the promotion of higher Talmudic 
studies; creates his central bureau for refugee aid. In that year world 
wide celebrations place to mark the three-fold jubilee of the Luba- 
vitcher Rabbi *? * X I : a) The completion of fifty years of his public 
work, b) the twentyfiftfa anniversary of his leadership of the Chabad 
movement^ and c) the eighteenth anniversary of his release from imprison- 
ment in Soviet Russia* where he had been imprisoned for his relentless 
championship of Torah and Judaism. In this connection a series of com- 
memorative publications were undertaken of his vast homilectic, Chassidic, 
philosophical, and literary contribution of which the present "Memoirs" 
are a part. 

At the end of the war, in 5705 (1945), Rabbi Joseph I. Schneersohn 

establishes his Refugee Relief and Rehabilitation Organization, "Ezrath 
Pleitim Vesidurom," with a regional office in Paris. Many refugees were 

helped by this office to emigrate to Eretz Israel, and in 5708 (1948) the 
Lubavitcher Rabbi establishes the Chabad Village (Kfar Chabad) in 

Safariah, near Tel Aviv. 

A short time before his demise, Rabbi Joseph I. Schneersohn turned 
his attention to the needs of North African Jewry, and the foundation 
was laid for a network of educational institutions in Morocco, including 
Yeshivoth, Talmud-Torahs, schools for girls, etc., which have since 
flourished under the name of "Oholei Joseph Yitzchok Lubavitz." A 
similar network of educational institutions was established in the Holy 
Land, and a Yeshivah in Melbourne, Australia. 

On the 10th of Shevat, 5710 (1950), Rabbi Joseph Isaac Schneer- 
sohn returned his sainted soul to heaven, at the age of seventy. 





*? " g T 

TREATISES (Kuntresim) : Kuntres 1-119 (5688-5716; 1928-1956). 

Likut 1-37 (5693-571.5; 1933-1955). 

lished in 'Hakeriah Vehakedushah' Nos. 1-61 (Tishrei 5701 - Elul 
5705; 1940-1945). 

PASTORAL LETTERS (Igaroth Kodesh) : Published in 'Hatamim* Vols. 
1-8 (Warsaw 5695-5698; 1935-1938). 

SELECTED SAYINGS (Mehani Miii Maaleyete) : Published in 'Kovetz 
Lubavitz' Vols. 1-10 (Brooklyn, 5704-5706; 1944-1946). 

COLLECTIONS OF LETTERS (Kovetz Michtavim) : Kovets I (War- 
saw, 5697; 1937); Kovetz 2 (Brooklyn, 5702, 1942); Kovetz 3 
(Brooklyn, 5712, 1952). 

MEMOIRS (Zichronot) : Published in the * Morning Journal*, New York 
(Tishrei 5, 5701 - Adar 6, 5702; 1940-1942). 'American' (Adar 
5712 - Elul 5713; 1952-1953). 

DISSERTATIONS (Maamarim) : Gedolim Maasei Zadikim (Warsaw, 
5685; 1925);BayomHasheniHikriv (Warsaw, 5685; 19.25); Lecha 
AmarLibbi (Warsaw, 5696; 1936) ; Vekibei Hay ehudim ('Hatamim' 
Vol. 7); Maamar Beis Elul, 5697 (New York, 5697; 19.37); Atem 
Nitzavim (Brooklyn, 5707; 1947); Isso Bzohar Chelek Girnrnel 
(Kuntres Hecholtzu, Brooklyn, 5709; 1948). 

TALKS (Sichot): Bagrissung (Riga, 5692; 1932); Raid far Frauen 
(Riga, 5695; 1935); Bazuch in Gluboke (Warsaw, 5695; 1935); 
Shevii-shel-Pesach 5698 (in 'Shema Yisroel,' New York, 5699; 
1939); Zain-Adar-sheni 5703; Yud-tes Kislev 5704; Yud-dalet lyar 
5704; Beis Adar 5705 (Brooklyn, 5703-5705; 1943-1945); in <Ha- 
keriah Vehakedushah* (New York, 5701-5705; 1940-1945); in Kun- 

"'For a more detailed list up to 5706, see Kuntres Torath Hachasiduth, pp. 30-32. 


tres Hecholtzu (Brooklyn, 5709; 1948); Sefer Hanigunim (Brook- 
lyn, 5709; 1949). 

MESSAGES AND LETTERS: L'Igud Hatmimim (Warsaw, 5695; 1935) ; 
Kiyyum nefesh mi-Yisrael (Riga, 5699; 1939); Message to Service- 
men (Brooklyn, 5705; 1945); in 'Chachmei Yisrael* (New York, 
5684; 1924); Tokeach Ivrim' (New York, 5700; 1940); 'Kuntres 
Umaayan' (Brooklyn, 5703; 1943); *Kovetz Chidushei Torah* 
(Brooklyn, 5705; 1945); 'Kuntres Eitz Hachaim'; 'Kuntres Ha- 
avodah' (Brooklyn, 5706; 1946); Kitzurim Veheoros (Brooklyn, 
5708; 1948). 

JUBILEE PUBLICATIONS: Sefer Hamaamorim Yiddish (Brooklyn, 
5706). Sefer Hamaamorim 5700 (Brooklyn, 5711; 1951. Second 
Edition: 5715; 1955). Sefer Hamaamorim 5703 (Brooklyn, 5713; 
1953). Sefer Hamaamorim 5709 (Brooklyn, 5712; 1952). Sefer 
Hamaamorim 5710 (Brooklyn, 5711; 1951). Sefer Hamaamorim 
5711 (Brooklyn, 5711, 1951). Sefer Hamaamorim 5701-2, 4-5 
in press). Sefer Hasichoth Kayitz 5700 (Brooklyn, 5707; 1947). 
Second Edition: 5716; 1956). Sefer Hasichoth 5701-2 (in press). 
Sefer Hazichronois Yiddish Part One (Brooklyn, 5707; 1947. 
Second Edition: 5716; 1956). Sefer Hazichronois Hebrew (in 
press). Sefer Hakitzurim Kitzurei Shaarei Oroh (Brooklyn, 5708; 


Owing to the negative attitude towards religion prevailing in Soviet 
Russia, there was no possibility to publish any of the Lubavitcher Rabbi's 
works prior to 1928. Only after his departure from Russia in that year 
did his writings begin to appear in print. 

There are two exceptions, however. These are the two Maamarim 
published by the Rabbi's followers in Warsaw in 1925. (See Dissertations 
on previous page.) 


The Late Lubavitcher Rabbi 


Lubavitch, the Town of 
"Brotherly Love" 

Jewish Towns and Townlefs. The Founder of 

The Oldest Beth Hamldrash.When Robbers Terrorized the 
Foresfs Ground iMbavffcfc.- Senfamfn fhe Mysffc assd bis 
friend Wolfe. The Rabbi of iubavlfcfe. 


There is hardly a town or townlet in the whole of Europe 
that is not bound up with the Jewish past or the Jewish 
present, that cannot tell something of Jewish history, and 
where the stones and the soil are not soaked with Jewish blood 
and Jewish tears. The very names of certain towns and town- 
lets bring to life for us the great Jewish personalities who for 
generations distinguished themselves by their knowledge of 
the Torah, by their good deeds, or by their martyrdom. 

Every town and townlet has its own chapter in Jewish 
history. There are towns and townlets that represent in them- 
selves complete movements and complete periods in Jewish 
life. Such a town, or rather townlet, was Lubavitch in Russia. 
During 102 years and 2 months, LubaYitch was the seat of four 
generations of "Chabad" Rabbis, and the center of Chabad 
Chassidism with hundreds of thousands of followers all over 
Russia as well as in other countries. 

"Chabad Chassidism" (the founder of which was "The 
Old Rabbi, 1 ' Rabbi Shneur Zalman, of blessed memory, the 
author of the "Tanya") is 177 years old. This means that for 


72 years and 10 months "Chabad Chassidism" had Its center 
elsewhere, or was In "exile." At the very beginning it was 
Lyozshna, "Chabad" was actually born in Lyozshna. Later its 
center was at Liady which, more than any other town, was 
connected with the name of "The Old Rabbi." 

Since Cheshvan 18th, 5676 (1915) , during the first World 
War, when Lubavitch was evacuated, and when my father, of 
blessed memory, together with all his family had to wander 
forth, Lubavitch ceased to be the seat of the Lubavitch Rabbis 
and the center of "Chabad." But the name Lubavitch will 
always be bound up with "Chabad Chassidism" and will ever 
awaken sweet memories, and portray a wonderful chapter in 
Jewish history, 

Although Lubavitch only began figuring in the history 
and development of "Chabad" with the 2nd generation of the 
Schneersohn dynasty, this townlet nevertheless played the 
main role in the formation of "Chabad" and perhaps even of 
the whole of "Chassidism." Indeed, its role began much earlier, 
when mystics and "Tzadikim" (righteous men) of various 
kinds and creeds, influenced Jewish life and prepared the 
way for the saintly "Baal-Shem-Tov" (Master of the Good 
Name) . 

There were good reasons why Lubavitch was destined to 
play such an important role, first of all in the lives of the 
secret "Tzadikim" and mystics, and later in the lives of the 
"Chabad" Rabbis and Chassidism, 

Lubavitch, on account of her geographical position, was a 
suitable place for people of lofty spirit. Here they could find 
seclusion from the outside world and devote themselves com- 
pletely to the study of the Torah and the service of G-d, or 
to start a new life, based on the highest and purest ethical 
principles of the Torah. 

Lubavitch, which is in the county of Mogilev, by the 
river Dnieper in White Russia, had always been surrounded 
by huge forests which gave it an appearance of being se- 
cluded. It gave the local inhabitants a feeling of isolation, thus 
turning Lubavitch into a magnet for those who sought soli- 
tude and who wished to be near to G-d and Nature. This is 

the why so many secret "Tzadikim" in 

lot with Lubavitch and put their seal upon her, creating 
the (for those unacquainted with the distant past 

development of Lubavitch) that the town 

than reality: a town of magic, with 

people, introducing an inspiring and charmingly pfaantastic 
chapter in Jewish life. 

In the early history of Lubavitch, back in the far dist- 
ant past, there figured a remarkable Jewish personality who 
has been remembered for generations 3 even unto our own 
time, Heir by name* He was one of those righteous men who 
preferred to live by the toil of their own hands. Not wishing 
to remain in their old home, and, in general^ wishing to form 
a new basis for their own existence and that of other fellow- 
Jews , he and five other families left their native town, and 
went forth, to seek some corner where they could settle on the 
land earn their living by their own labors. Apparently 

already had in mind the creation of a Jewish colony an 

which was later taken up and carried out with practical 
by the Rabbis of Lubavitch. For, according to the tales 

are told about him, Meir really got busy building up a 
colony in the very place where Lubavitch sprang up later. 
Surrounded as it was by forests, and situated on the banks of 
a river^ it was a most desirable spot for a colony. And so 
Meir, together with the families that followed him, started in 
earnest on the task of cutting down trees and therewith build- 
ing houses. 

What name this small settlement had if a name at 
all thought of at the beginning is not known, but the name 
"Lubavitch" which this same colony founded by Meir was 
later given, very well described and characterized its founder. 

As it is related, Meir distinguished himself by his great 
love for his fellow Jews and also non-Jews. His love for his 
fellow-beings was boundless. He used to quote the Sages that 
"He who finds favor in the eyes of his fellow-beings will also 
find favor in the eyes of GML" 

Obviously in order to find favor in the eyes of fellow-man 
one must be good and kind to all, and ready to be self-sacri- 


And not only towards his fellow-beings did Heir show 
his love and respect, but he also loved all G-d's creatures, 
be it a four-legged animal, a fowl, or a wild bird. To him 
everything that had life was to be adored and held sacred. He 

to say that showing love towards one's fellow-beings, as 
well as to G-d's other creatures, gave great pleasure to the 

It can be readily understood that Meir was a great phil- 
anthropist towards Jews and non-Jews alike, and because of 
this, his name very soon became known in his whole neigh- 
borhood and even far afield. Many stories were told about 
Heir's kindness. No wonder then that the new Settlement 
was named "Luba n meaning "love" both in the Russian and 
Polish languages. Later the suffix "vitch" was added, and thus 
Luba became Lubavitch the symbol of love for G-d's crea- 
tion, and, as a matter of course, also love towards the Creator 
of the world. 

Meir was the forerunner of a line of "Tzadikim" and mys- 
tics who in the course of hundreds of years made Lubavitch 
their home. For this very reason Lubavitch later merited to 
become a Jewish center, from which emanated Jewish author- 
ity and leadership which were recognized and accepted 
throughout the Jewish world. 

Lubavitch never became a large city, though tens of thou- 
sands of visiting Chassidim streamed into it from all parts 
of Russia. 

According to reports, there were 110 Jewish families in 
Lubavitch at the time when the "Intermediate Rabbi" ("Mit 
ieler Rebbe? son of the founder of Chabad) settled there 
in the year 5573 (1813), Earlier on, when the "Old Rabbi" 
("Alter ReVbe") studied as a boy in Lubavitch in the years 
5516 and 5517 (1756 and 1757), the number of Jewish fam- 
ilies there was between 75 and 80. 

Altogether, Lubavitch was about 1% versts long and 1% 
versts wide (that is an area of about a square mile). In the 
center of the town there was a large market place where the 
shops were to be found. Three long streets led off from the 
Market Place. One called Brom street, leading towards the 


town of Dobromysl. The second, called Khilova street, lead- 
ing to Rudnyaj and the third called Chachliuka street, lead- 
ing to Rososno. Apart from these three main streets there were 
smaller streets known as Siritze, Cold Street, Vigon Street 
and River Street, In the north of Lubavitch flows the big 
river and in the west, near the cemetery, there was a small 
rivulet. The large river was called Eerezine (Birch), whose 
source is in the village of the same name, the latter deriving 
its name from the fact of the Birch trees surrounding it. The 
small river was called "The Gravestone River/' because it 
streamed forth from one of the old gravestones in the old cem- 
etery. The letters on the gravestone were no longer legible and 
so it is not known whose grave it was. The injunction not to 
use the water of the Gravestone River, either for drinking or 
washing oneself, had been passed down from generation to 

Although Lubavitch was in Polish territory, its non-Jew- 
ish population was always Russian. The Jews and non-Jews 
in Lubavitch always lived peaceably together. 

The oldest "Beth-Hamidrash" there was known as "Ben- 
jamin's House of Prayer." It must be said, however, that this 
"Beth-Hamidrash" was in the course of its history rebuilt 
several times after being destroyed by fire. 

Benjamin, after whose name this "Beth-Hamidrash" was 
called, was another remarkable figure whose memory and good 
deeds were closely bound up with Lubavitch. 


Benjamin was a peddler, and he used to go peddling with. 
his small bundle of wares to the surrounding villages. His 
wife was barren. They lived in a house with a large vegetable 
garden at the river's edge. Benjamin was a G-d-fearing man 
who carried out all "Mitzvoth" (G-d's commandments), espe- 
cially charity, which he distributed generously. Aside from 
these virtues he was thought to be an unlearned person. How- 
ever, an unusual occurrence eventually disclosed Benjamin's 
true personality. It took place in the middle of the 4th 



century (in the 6th millenium according to the 
Calendar reckoning), that is to say, about 350 years ago* 
Lubavitch was already a town with a long history behind it. 
Something then happened which greatly aroused not only 
Lubavitch but also the surrounding area. 

A band of murderous robbers had gathered in the 
which was on the route between Lubavitch and Dobromysl. 
Every person travelling through this forest was attacked by 
these robbers. But these dreadful highway men were not sat- 
isfied with merely attacking wayfarers. They did not lie in 
wait for victims, but went into the nearby villages and robbed 
the peasants of ail their possessions. They robbed them of 
their horses* cattle, and herds. The whole area was gripped 
with terror. People were afraid to travel on the road and 
afraid, too, to stay at home. For some time Lubavitch alone 
was left unmolested by the robbers, who seemed afraid to 
enter this townlet where, after all, there was a comparatively 
considerable population. But once, two of these robbers who 
thought that the people of Lubavitch were surely as scared 
of them as the rest of the people in that area, and would not 
dare retaliate or oppose them, left their forest hide-out and 
went forth to Lubavitch,, 

The first house they chose for their attack was on its 
outskirts. Evidently the robbers did not want to risk too 
much. In addition they chose this house knowing that no one 
but a thirteen year old Jewish girl was in it. 

On entering the house they started to take everything 

came to hand. The terrified young girl began screaming, 
and made an attempt to rush to the door leading outside! 
hoping by her screams to attract a passer-by to come to her aid 
and drive off the robbers. But ere she reached the door, one of 
the robbers blocked her way, catching her in his brawny arms. 
Covering her mouth with his hand, he prevented her from 
making any further call for help. 

The poor innocent Jewish girl realized the terrible danger 
she was in and started wrestling with the savage brute with 
all her strength, scratching and biting and kicking Mm, De- 
spite Ms superior strength he found that he could not 


her, so he began striking her with his fists until blood came 
trickling down her face. 

This brought out all the girl's obstinacy and determina- 
tion to save herself and her honor from this beast, and in des- 
peration freeing her mouth from the robber's hands, renewed 
her cries for help with all her might. Her screams would prob- 
ably have got lost in the wind, never reaching the houses which 
were some distance away. But, as if drawn to the spot by a 
hidden power, Benjamin the peddler just happened to be pass- 
ing by, and hearing the desperate cries for help he sprang 
forward and burst into the house. The girl was still struggling 
in the robber's arms whilst the second robber was engaged in 
gathering together anything of value that he could find in 
the house. 

As soon as the robbers saw the intruder, they both hurled 
themselves at him. It seemed now as if Benjamin was in great 
danger of his life, for how could he, a small thin puny Jew, 
attempt to pit his feeble strength against the greater might 
of these two powerful and ruthless robbers? But Benjamin, 
unafraid, turned towards them and uttered a few words known 
only to the Mystics. 

Immediately the two robbers were stricken by an over- 
powering drowsiness and sank to the floor, as if in a swoon, 
not stirring from where they had fallen. 

The danger being over, the little Jewish girl became 
calmer, and stood looking at the scene in wonder, hardly able 
to grasp what had taken place before her very eyes! True, 
she had seen everything, but couldn't imagine that the over- 
powering of the robbers had come through the secret powers 
of Benjamin, and that he was in fact a Mystic. 

She, together with all the other inhabitants of Lubavitch, 
considered him to be a respectable, orthodox, goodhearted Jew, 
but nevertheless quite an ordinary person without any special 
claims to spiritual talents, let alone having secret powers pos- 
sessed only by great Mystics! 

Benjamin now had but one thing to do. The two rob- 
bers lay helpless on the floor, and it only remained for him 
to notify the local Police. The robbers were soon taken away to 


prison, still in their helpless condition. Only when the robbers 
were safely behind bars, did they regain consciousness. The 
police then set to, and with the aid of a good thrashing, the two 
robbers eventually gave information of the whereabouts of the 
rest of the gang in the forest, which led to their wholesale 
round-up and arrest by a party of armed police. 

Thus Lubavitch, and all the surrounding area, was finally 
freed from the band of robbers who for so long had cast a 
wave of terror over the population. Whether the townspeople 
did not know the exact details of Benjamin's exploit, or did not 
choose to believe that this was a result of his secret powers, 
the fact is that the affair was soon forgotten. 

The main reason why people stopped paying any attention 
to Benjamin was because just about this time, he had become 
a crony of a man who had suddenly appeared in Lubavitch. No 
one thought of taking any notice of this newcomer, for what 
was he after all but a simple cobbler, and a poor man at that! 

Wolfe, was the cobbler's name. He came with his wife, 
he said, from a small town in Wohlyn. He gave no reason 
for their coming to Lubavitch, and no one was interested 
enough to enquire. What did it matter to anyone anyway what 
had brought them to Lubavitch? He couldn't expect much 
of a living there, but this apparently didn't worry Wolfe. 

This Wolfe in no way distinguished himself. He became 
a member of the "Clievrah Tilttm" (Psalms Circle) and, to- 
gether with other workpeople, used to come regularly very 
early in the morning to the Beth-Hamidrash to read the Psalms 
before the Morning Service, He also became a member of a 
Society called "Poale Tzedek" (Righteous Workers) who came 
together to study "Mishnayoth" and "En Yaakov," Wolfe 
used to sit at the end of the table where the "Poale Tzedek" 
had their lesson, and listen. No one was sure that the cobbler 
grasped and understood the meaning of the lesson. 

The cobbler certainly had a good heart and good inten- 
tions, but were these sufficient reasons for making a fuss of 
this simple man? And so no fuss was made of him. 

From time to time this Wolfe had a habit of disappearing 
from Lubavitch. He was seen to leave his house with a bundle 



on his shoulders, which surely contained not much more than 
his Tains, TefilUn., his bit of lunch which his wife had wrapped 
up for him, and his cobbler's tools. Wolfe did not show him- 
self in Lubavitch for several weeks and then, when on Ms re- 
turn anyone asked him where he had been, he used to say that 
he had been wandering about from village to village, patching 
and mending the villagers' boots, shoes, or sandals ; even here 
and there reaching some nobleman's mansion and making new 
boots for the nobility. 

Now it was with this cobbler Wolfe that Benjamin had 
suddenly become so friendly. Benjamin even used to leave 
Lubavitch at the very same time as Wolfe and return at the 
same time as he. In short, it appeared that they accompanied 
each other in their wanderings in the surrounding villages. 
For after all they were not business rivals or competitors. Ben- 
jamin traded in various kinds of merchandise, whilst Wolfe 
was occupied in his capacity as a cobbler. 

When two people become so thick and do not move an 
inch without each other, it is obvious that one is no better than 
the other. Anyone could see that Wolfe was nothing more than 
a very ordinary though honest cobbler, and so Benjamin could 
hardly be considered in any way on a higher plane. 

A year or so had passed since the affair of the robbers, 
when there appeared in Lubavitch a then famous personal- 
ity. This was Rabbi Betzalel Uri of Polotzk, who was 
known to be a great Mystic with wonderful powers. On arrival 
in Lubavitch he greatly astonished the local Jewish inhabit- 
ants by enquiring, with obvious respect, after Benjamin the 

"What is the meaning, Rabbi, of your respectful manner 
regarding Benjamin?" the people asked in bewilderment. To 
which the visitor replied: "Seemingly you do not know that 
Rabbi Benjamin is a Mystic, and that by his mystical powers 
he overcame the robbers." The people listened astounded. This 
would never have occurred to them, Had they heard this from 
anyone other than from such a great "Tsadik" as Rabbi 
Betzalel Uri of Polotzk, they would not have believed it. But 



now, of course, there could be no room for doubt about the 

But where was Benjamin now? A search was made for 
him in the town. Then it was remembered that it was already 
some weeks since he had left Lubavitch and, as always, at the 
same time as Wolfe the cobbler had gone away. Was it really 
possible then, that there was some connection between these 
two? That their simultaneous disappearances and their friend- 
ship for each other had some special significance? 

Really the people could see no way other than to con- 
clude that Wolfe the cobbler must also be a Mystic, seeing 
how closely he and Rabbi Benjamin were befriended together! 
But Rabbi Betzalel Uri had only talked of Rabbi Benjamin and 
not of Wolfe. Rabbi Betzalel Uri had only sought the peddler 
and not the cobbler. Anyway neither was at present in Lu- 
bavitch and nobody, not even their wives, knew exactly when 
they would return. 

Rabbi Betzalel Uri must have had a special mission to 
Benjamin, judging by his anxiety to find him, which he made 
no attempt to disguise. Rabbi Betzalel Uri, seeing no point in 
waiting in Lubavitch for Benjamin's indefinite return, left the 
town in search of him. 

All Lubavitch was now talking of the Mystic and "Won- 
der worker" Rabbi Benjamin. Now it was clearly seen that 
his victory over the robbers was indeed accomplished by his 
supernatural powers. Now they were all ready to acclaim him 
and offer him their respect and hero-worship. But where had 
Benjamin disappeared to ? No one knew. 

Benjamin meanwhile had been wandering from town to 
town and from village to village, arriving finally at Dobromysl, 
where no one knew him and where he had no need to announce 
his identity. 

But once, in a Beth-Hamidrash there, he happened to over- 
hear some fellow-Jews discussing him and his wonders, and 
was greatly disturbed. He could have attained great fame and 
honor, and been acknowledged as a miracle worker, but this 
he on no account desired. He wished to remain unnoticed, and 



continue with, his life of wandering, unknown and unrecog- 

What worried Benjamin the most was the fact that he 
would need to return to Lubavitch where everyone knew him. 
He could no longer remain in the background! He would no 
longer have any peace, as people would come to him with re- 
quests from all sides. Above all, they would give him too 
much honor. Obviously he could not avoid going to Lubavitch 
as his wife was there, and all their household belongings. So 
he returned to Lubavitch with a very heavy heart, like a guilty 
man caught "red-handed." 


Now was it because of Benjamin's troubled mind (and let 
it be said that the anxieties of a righteous man are not over- 
looked On High) , or through some other cause? In Lubavitch 
something dreadful happened soon after Benjamin's return. 
A great fire broke out in the town, swallowing up all the houses 
and buildings in flames. Benjamin's house was also amongst 
them. The only Beth-Hamidrash which Lubavitch possessed 
was likewise destroyed. In all this great catastrophe which 
had befallen the inhabitants, Benjamin was naturally enough 
forgotten. And even afterwards, when the last glowing logs 
of the bumt-out houses were extinguished, and the bewildered 
and stricken victims recovered from the shock and set them- 
selves to putting a roof over their heads, no particular atten- 
tion was paid to Benjamin. All the homeless had to get to work 
rebuilding their houses. There were forests enough at hand, 
and it only necessitated their going to the forest, cutting down 
trees, and bringing back the logs for building their homes. 
The Jews living in Lubavitch at that time were a hard- 
working lot of people. Each could quite expertly handle an 
axe and saw. Those who could not afford to employ laborers 
for the job, did it themselves. So the forests echoed with the 
blows of axes and the voices of the wood-cutters. Logs were 
quickly brought from the forest and soon houses were again 
standing in the streets of Lubavitch. 

Benjamin also began the rebuilding of Ms house. He was 



now an old man. He had no children to help him in the task, 
so he engaged workers. Whilst all the people were busy build- 
ing their houses, they observed that Benjamin seemed to be 
erecting rather a large building. What was the meaning of it? 
they wondered. Did Benjamin intend to replace his small 
burnt-out cottage with such an imposing dwelling? They 
shrugged their shoulders. They dared not ask Benjamin and 
he himself told them nothing. 

But as the building came nearer completion, the people 
began to doubt whether Benjamin was in fact building a house 
for himself. Soon the mystery was cleared. It was, after all, 
not a house for himself but a House of G-d! Benjamin had 
buiy: a Beth-Hamidrash. 

At last it had dawned upon the minds of the people what 
had occurred. They had all been so concerned with the erec- 
tion of their own homes, that they had forgotten the necessity 
of erecting the Beth-Hamidrash. This they probably would 
have seen to after they were all comfortably rehoused. Not 
so Benjamin. He gave prior place to the building of a House 
of Prayer. Thus the people were again reminded of his righ- 
teousness, and they decided to call the Beth-Hamidrash "Ben- 
jamin's House of Prayer." The people now remembered all 
that Rabbi Betzalel Uri of Polotzk had told of him, and began 
talking about it with much enthusiasm. Benjamin tried to 
deny everything categorically. "I am nothing more than a 
plain peddler; I am no Mystic," he maintained. And as if 
to convince them anew of his humble station, he was more 
friendly than ever with all the workers in the town, and espe- 
cially with Wolfe the cobbler, who always gave the impres- 
sion of not even being able to understand the meaning of the 
daily prayers. 

In truth, Wolfe the cobbler, too, was a Mystic, and the 
friendship between him and Benjamin was for very lofty pur- 
poses. No one, however, knew about this, and could not possib- 
ly find out, because the only occasions on which they devoted 
themselves to the study of Torah together, was during their 
absences from Lubavitch, when they could hide themselves in 
the surrounding forests which were so ideal for solitude. 



Wolfe the cobbler was also childless, like Benjamin. 
During the plague of Cholera which had raged in Lubavitch 
as well as in nearby towns, when people had been struck down 
like flies, Wolfe's wife, too, had fallen a victim. Wolfe, still 
considered by the local inhabitants as a simple worker, had got 
married again to a widow, the daughter of a tailor in Luba- 

Benjamin meanwhile became older and weaker. His legs 
refused to carry him. He could no more go off on his wander- 
ings as heretofore, nor could he visit the villages on his ped- 
dling rounds. His wife, too, had become enfeebled in her old 
age. They now needed someone to look after them and their 
home, and so they took in a certain man named Tzevi Arieh and 
his wife Leah Breine a young couple who had no children 
as yet. 

Tzevi Arieh had been earning his living by working in a 
hand-mill, turning the mill-stones. He was a simple but G-d 
fearing Jew who lived by the toil of his hands. 

It is not known whether Tzevi Arieh was also a Mystic, 
or whether Benjamin chose him only for his simplicity and 
piety. The fact is that Benjamin not only took the young 
couple in to look after himself and his wife, but he at the same 
time made Tzevi Arieh their heir. 

Before Benjamin died, he sent for the Chevrah Kadisha 
(Burial Board) and instructed them as to his burial. He also 
directed them to reserve a place beside his grave for his wife. 
He then made over his house, garden and all his possessions to 
Tzevi Arieh and his wife Leah Breine. 

He made the condition though, that they should always 
keep their house open to wayfarers and make them welcome. 
They should also take in orphans and bring them up. Ben- 
jamin requested of his heirs that, should they be blessed with a 
son and daughter, they should name them Benjamin and Sarah, 
after himself and his wife. 

When Benjamin had finished with the Burial Board and 
Tzevi Arieh and his wife, he called in Wolfe the cobbler, who 
remained with him until the moment of his death. 



Wolfe stayed for several hours at the death-bed of his 
dying friend, but what secrets they revealed to each other in 
the last moments of Benjamin's life on earth was never known, 

Benjamin's funeral, at his own request before passing, was 
a simple one and no obituaries were held. 

A month later his wife Sarah died and was buried by the 
side of her husband according to his expressed wish. 

Tzevi Arieh and his wife took over the inheritance and 
carried out all the instructions of Benjamin, Their house was 
open to all, and they took in and brought up orphans as if they 
were their own children. 

Meanwhile something happened to Wolfe the cobbler, 
Two years after he had married his second wife, a traveller 
passing through Lubavitch saw Wolfe and told everybody in 
great excitement: "Don't you know who he is? He is Rabbi 
Wolfe the lllny the world famous scholar of Lutzk! He disap- 
peared years ago with his wife, the daughter of the Gaon, 
Rabbi Isaac Gershon, the Rav of Lutzk, and nobody knew 
where they had got to!" 

Now at last the people of Lubavitch discovered that 
this same Wolfe the cobbler was a scholar in disguise and 
that he had for years led a secret life. Now it was under- 
stood too why Benjamin and he had been such close friends* 
Excitement ran high in Lubavitch. Wolfe could now have 
had honor and greatness thrust upon him. He would also 
have had the opportunity of giving up his work of cobbling, 
but this he would not hear of. He wished to continue his way 
of life, and if this would prove impossible in Lubavitch where 
his secret was now known, then he would again disappear. 

The way of life he had chosen for himself did not lead 
to riches and honor. Nor had he any intention of using his 
Torah knowledge as "a spade to dig with." He wished to sup- 
port himself by the labor of his own hands, For Mm the 
maxim: "By the sweat of thy brow shalt thou eat bread/' 
had a positive meaning. He did not intend to stay amongst 
people who knew that he was not a simple working man. For 
this reason he had to leave the town. 



This time, however, it did not seem so simple. His first 
wife had been satisfied to share his life of exile and poverty, 
because she was no less great a personality than he, and was 
prepared to make equal sacrifices. But his second wife was just 
an ordinary woman, the daughter of a tailor, the widow of 
a worker. He did not know how she would act now that she 
had learned that her husband was not a simple cobbler but 
a celebrated scholar. And so Wolfe submitted to her the 
choice of the two following suggestions: either she should 
follow him wherever he would go, or she could obtain a divorce 
from him. On no account would he or could he stay in Luba- 

His wife did not want a divorce. She agreed to accompany 
him in his new exile and, in the course of a couple of days, 
husband and wife disappeared from Lubavitch. 


For Wolfe the cobbler and his wife there now commenc- 
ed a long exile. They wandered from town to town support- 
ing themselves by cobbling, a job Wolfe carried on with great 
keenness, for it meant for him much more than a means of 
earning a modest living, or as a shield behind which to hide 
his righteousness and learning. 

Wolfe found in his work his contentment and idealism in 
life. Especially did it satisfy his desire to be amongst work- 
ers and simple folk whom he loved with all the fervor of his 
soul. Cobbling also gave him an opportunity of doing good 
to people, particularly the poor. Any kind of clothes may do 
to wear, but footwear must be whole, to withstand the cold and 
snow in winter, and the rainy days during the year, 

Wolfe used to charge the lowest possible prices for his 
work, firstly because he didn't look for a comfortable living, 
but only desired the barest minimum of requirements for 
himself and his wife. Secondly, by charging so little, it en- 
abled the very poor people to have new shoes made, or at least 
their old ones repaired. 

Wolfe's wanderings went on for some time until he reach- 
ed a village in Wohlyn, not far from Lukatsh, where he set- 



tied down and made his permanent home. "Permanent" until 
he had to leave the place, as was the case when he had to 
leave Lubavitch. 

In this village Wolfe had at first found the contentment 
he had been looking for since he had left Lubavitch. He was 
able to lead a quiet, unassuming life without it occurring to 
anyone that he was a great man in disguise. Wolfe had won a 
good name for himself amongst Jews and non-Jews alike, 
but solely on account of his honesty and conscientiousness in 
his work. In addition he was liked for his quiet manner, and 
for never gossiping about people. He had no quarrel with 
anyone and, as the saying goes, "he wouldn't hurt a fly!" 
In truth, Wolfe spoke very little altogether, and was con- 
sidered a silent fellow. People ascribed this to his simplicity 
as well as to his goodness. The villagers used to call him by 
the nickname "Wolfke Dobri" ("The good Wolfe"). 

Now things might have gone on this way, nobody know- 
ing that this quiet man was a great personality and genius, 
had not something occurred which compelled Wolfe again 
to pack up and depart. There lived in this village a Catholic 
priest who had got it into his head that he must, and would 
be able to, convert Jews to Christianity. At first the priest be- 
gan with soft words and a friendly manner. Every time there 
was a public holiday he called together all the inhabitants, 
Jews as well as non-Jews, and addressed the assembly frora 
a platform in the market place. He told them that if the 
Jews would only adopt the Christian faith and assimilate 
with the Christians, they would be saved, and together with 
the Christians would constitute a happy community. 

All this talk made a great impression on the listeners, es- 
pecially the Christians, who now really made an effort to 
show friendship for the Jews. The Jews on their part felt 
more secure. But as regards the priest's admonition that 
Jews and Christians should assimilate and become one na- 
tion, this had no effect whatsoever. The Jews stuck to their 
religion and the Christians to theirs. For as long as the priest 
confined his advice only to friendship between Jews and non- 
Jews no one was disturbed. The non-Jews felt that they 



must follow the priest's clearly defined injunction to treat 
the Jews in the same way as their own people. This was cer- 
tainly to the advantage of the Jews and they appreciated it 

It did not take very long, however, before the Jews saw 
that the priest's fine words were but a preparation. It soon 
became clear that all this talk of "friendship" led to his open 
request that the Jews submit to conversion. The priest began 
openly to rant against the Jewish faith and "proved" that 
Christianity was the only true religion and precisely as. repre- 
sented by the Catholic church, 

The priest even tried to show his "learning" by quoting 
passages from the Bible, which he translated in such a way as 
to show that even the Old Testament "recognized" Christi- 

Learned Jews knew how to answer such arguments. Fa- 
mous Jewish leaders throughout the ages have had to deal 
with such so-called "proofs" submitted by missionaries, and 
frustrated them completely. In this village in Wohlyn, how- 
ever, there unfortunately seemed to be no Jew amongst 
them, capable of replying convincingly to the priest. They 
were all ordinary people for whom the "proofs" of the smooth- 
tongued priest were entirely above their heads. So these poor 
Jews were indeed in a quandary. The priest became more and 
more pressing in his challenge. He now openly invited the 
Jews either to repudiate his "proofs" which he had taken 
from the Bible, or else to give up their Jewish faith and 
come over to Christianity. The priest, seeing that none of the 
Jews attempted to come forward to say anything, became 
exceedingly proud of himself, feeling that he had certainly 
beaten the Jews even if he had not convinced them. He ex- 
pected to have a big "haul," hoping that a great number of 
Jews would submit to conversion. 

Once, just before a Christian festival in the summer, the 
priest assembled all Jews and non-Jews in the market place 
and addressed them from the platform in his usual manner. 
But this time the priest spoke more sharply against the 



Jewish, religion and put to the Jews the direct demand that 
they should embrace Christianity. He made fun of their cus- 
toms and of their faith, trying to show with his customary in- 
solence that the truth could only be found in Catholicism. 

"Can anyone reply to my arguments?" asked the priest, 
looking around, confident that there was no Jew present who 
could reply. But suddenly someone stepped forward from 
amongst the gathered Jews, saying in a clear-cut voice 
that he was ready to answer the priest. Everybody in the 
crowd turned round to see who this man could possibly be* 
And, to their great astonishment, it was none other than 
Wolfe the cobbler, "Wolfke Dobri" as he was called by the 
Christians, the man whom most people had never heard open 
his mouth, so that many wondered if he had the faculty of 
speech at all. "What is the idea of his coming forward?" the 
people asked each other, their eyes popping out of their heads 
in wonder. The priest, too, was very interested. 

"Good, Wolfke," he called out, "do you wish to say some- 
thing? Come up here onto the platform and let us all hear 
what you have to say!" The priest was obviously certain 
that this very "Wolfke Dobri" could help pin the Jews down, 
and they would not be able to get out of his clutches. 

With assured steps Wolfe walked onto the platform and 
began to speak. To the amazement of all present, they heard 
language which they had never believed could come from 
him. He spoke in Polish, a fluent clear Polish, just like a real 
Pole. The biggest surprise he gave the listeners, however, was 
on account of what he said. He started refuting the priest's 
arguments one after another, and brought counter-arguments 
which made what the priest had said appear absolutely ridicu- 
lous. The cobbler quoted passage after passage from the Bible 
in Hebrew, quickly and fluently translating them in Polish. 
The most amazing part of it all was that everyone understood 
him clearly and easily, and could not but see that he was in 
the right. 

He showed that the priest did not know what he was 
talking about and had not only misquoted from the Bible, 
but had mistranslated or misunderstood his quotations. 



Now the priest was indeed silenced. He was no match 
for Wolfe. The argument was now ended, everyone seeing 
that the cobbler had emerged the victor over the priest 
The Jews were full of joy. They felt that Wolfe had saved 
them from a great danger. Even the non-Jews could not stop 
wondering about the sudden revelation of this silent, ap- 
parently unlearned Wolfke. 

The priest dared not insult the Jews any longer, and 
ceased his public utterances in the market place. 

Thus was Wolfe discovered to be a Mystic. His own 
actions had brought about this revelation, but the urgent 
need of upholding the sanctity of G-d's name, had left him 
no alternative. After that, however, he did not feel like re- 
maining in the village where all the inhabitants, Jews and 
non-Jews, would undoubtedly give him the honor they would 
now consider due to him, and he would certainly have had to 
give up his cobbling. This he was emphatically determined 
not to do! He had fulfilled his mission in this place; he could 
leave now. 

This had happened in mid-summer before harvesting 
time. At the beginning of Elul (around August) it was re- 
alized that Wolfe and his wife had disappeared. 

A new period of exile began for him. He was to wander 
anew through towns and villages, carrying on undisturbed 
with his job of cobbling, where no one suspected that he was 
anything other than an ordinary person, with no higher am- 
bition than to spend his time with his equals and earn a 
very modest living, justly and honestly. 

Back in the village he had left, everyone put up a search 
for Wolfe. They did not want to lose him, but they found no 
trace of him whatever! Everybody was very grieved about 
it. The only exception, naturally, was the priest who rejoiced 
greatly. He was now rid of one who had had him helplessly 
pinned to the wall. Now he could start afresh, unhampered, 
on his .self-appointed task of trying to convert the Jews. 

The priest again began his "sermons" in the market 
place. Again he brought out his old "proofs" why Jews should 
embrace Christianity. The Jews of the village listened to him 



in sorrow and in fear. They were in sorrow because Wolfe 
was no longer there to shatter the priest's arguments, and 
were in fear because they all saw the danger of the priest 
becoming more determined in his efforts, and even trying 
compulsory methods. The position became aggravated since 
the priest had obtained the services of the son of the local 
squire to assist him in his missionary work. 

This young assistant had had a fairly good education, but 
was something of a fanatic. He supported the priest whole- 
heartedly in his efforts to draw the Jews into the net of con- 
version. He made a practice of attending the meeting in the 
market place, and also joined the priest in preaching to them. 

This young "nobleman" tried to show his theological 
knowledge in an attempt to convince his Jewish audience that 
they ought to go over to Christianity. At the same time he 
missed no opportunity of threatening them with all kinds 
of persecution if they persisted in being obstinate in the 
matter. The Jews felt terribly down-hearted and depressed, 
and could think of no way out of their dilemma. 

It was again in mid-summer during harvest time that the 
priest, supported by his young assistant, had called one of 
his usual meetings in the market place. The young man 
stepped forward and called out to the Jews: "Can anyone 
here reply to my arguments ?" For a moment there reigned 
a deathly silence. Suddenly someone from the side moved 
forward. "Yes, Pll answer you!" a stranger called, as he 
bravely advanced to the platform. 

All eyes were turned towards the speaker, and to the 
great delight and relief of the Jews present, it was none other 
than their good friend Wolfe the cobbler! Sure enough his 
return was very timely. Here he was right on the scene, quite 
ready for a discussion with the priest and his assistant. Again 
Wolfe showed the power of his oratory and in fluent Polish 
brushed aside all the arguments and "proofs" of the two 
missionaries. He simply closed their mouths; they had to 
admit they were defeated. The Jews were filled with joy. They 
again felt secure. Wolfe and his wife now remained in the 



village. He felt It wouldn't be safe to go away and leave his 
fellow-Jews helpless under the existing circumstances. 

One day towards the end of summer, Wolfe was sitting 
in the Beth-Hamidrash studying as usual when sud- 
denly in burst three armed policemen and arrested him. This 
caused a great stir amongst the people. Wolfe's wife wept 
bitterly and pleaded with the police to release her husband, 
but in vain. They claimed that his arrest had come about on 
the orders of higher authorities, and that Wolfe was to be 
taken before the Bishop at Lukatsh. It was obvious who was 
at the bottom of it all. The priest and his assistant, feeling 
worsted in their arguments with Wolfe, had decided to take 
revenge on him and at the same time to rid themselves of 
his presence completely. They denounced him to the Bishop 
who found a way of getting him arrested. 

Wolfe was held under arrest at Lukatsh for a month, 
during which period he had to go before the Bishop twice 
weekly and discuss with this high ecclesiastical authority 
the merits of Judaism and Christianity. It was imperative for 
the Bishop that he should achieve a victory over the cobbler, 
but this he failed to do. Wolfe always had an answer ready 
for him and refuted all his claims, his proofs, and his ex- 
planations. The Bishop, seeing he could not manage him, 
had him sent, under armed escort, to the Supreme Council of 
the Catholic Church which was then in Kiev. 

At first Wolfe had a friendly reception. He was allowed 
to stay in a private house in freedom. Once a fortnight he 
was called to a public assembly to hold a debate with one 
of the ecclesiastical chiefs. Thus five months passed. In none 
of these public debates was there anyone who could get the 
upper hand over Wolfe. He always came out the victor. The 
priests felt they were no match for him. They just couldn't 
cope with him. And so they resorted to the old method of 
libel. They accused him of poking fun at the Catholic church 
and priests and of mocking at their Christian faith. 

Wolfe was brought before the Ecclesiastical Court. Every- 
thing had been arranged beforehand. False witnesses were 
produced who confirmed Wolfe's guilt. The Prosecutor would 



demand the maximum penalty, and the verdict was to be that 
Wolfe should be burned alive. 

The trial was held in public. It took place in the very 
center of Kiev. The Rabbi of Kiev and the Jewish heads of 
the community were compelled to attend the trial. 

The tragedy, which had greatly shaken the Jews of Kiev 
and in fact all Jewish communities in Wohlyn, was increased 
by the fact that Wolfe's wife was expecting a baby, their first 
child. Wolfe had been so happy about the forthcoming event, 
hut the unfortunate man did not live to see his child, for his 
death al Mddush Hashem (for the sanctity of G-d's Name) 
took place some months before the baby was born. 

The Jewish community in Kiev begged Wolfe's widow 
to remain there and promised they would look after her 
well, and see to ail her needs. But she did not wish to stay. 
She decided to return to Lubavitch, where she was born and 
where she had her parents. 

So she took the first opportunity of leaving Kiev and 
returned to Lubavitch. Her father, a poor tailor, was already 
old and was himself dependent upon support from others. 
For this reason she was unable to stay with her parents 
and could find no home. She had no near relatives to help her. 
The heads of the Jewish community in Lubavitch, knowing 
of the great saintliness and martyrdom of her husband, and 
of the fact that she was pregnant, were eager to see that she 
should have everything she needed. But she refused all offers 
of assistance, saying she had learned from her husband how 
important it was that everyone should support himself by 
the work of his own hands. 

She was therefore determined to take up some occupa- 
tion which she could carry on right up to the time when 
her baby would be born. And so she took employment as a 
domestic in a household in Lubavitch, and gave birth to her 
baby there. It was a boy and she called him Wolfe, after 
his father. There was much rejoicing on the occasion of the 
child's circumcision. All the good folk of Lubavitch came to 
participate in the celebration. 



For three years Wolfe's widow reared her child, and 
all by her own earnings, persistently refusing help from any- 
one, either for herself or for her little son. 

It is possible that this proved too much for the poor 
widow. The fact is that she became ill and took to her bed, 
from which she never rose again. The three-year-old Wolfe 
was now doubly orphaned. 

The local community now had to find means of caring 
for the child's welfare. Very quickly someone was found to 
take in the little orphan. This was Tzevi Arieh and his wife 
Leah Breine. You will recall that these good people were 
the heirs of Benjamin the Mystic who had left his house and 
garden to the couple, they on their part promising him that 
they would take orphans into their home and rear them, 
and keep an open house for all who required a night's lodg- 

This was indeed a particularly good opportunity. Now the 
little orphan was friendless and homeless no longer. For was 
lie not the son of the saintly Wolfe who was so bound up in 
friendship with Benjamin? 

The kind Tzevi Arieh and his wife Leah Breine had 
by now children of their own, a boy and a girl. They had 
been able to comply with another part of Benjamin's will, to 
name the boy Benjamin, and the girl after his wife Sarah. 
Benjamin and Sarah were both gifted children. The boy 
distinguished himself in his studies, and his sister Sarah ex- 
celled in her beauty of character and appearance. Although she 
herself was yet a child, she did all she could to help her 
mother in the care of the orphans who lived with them. 

As soon as the little orphan Wolfe was brought to their 
house, little Sarah took him under her wing, played with him 
and was very friendly towards him, just like a sister. Before 
long, little Wolfe began to show that he too had a great apti- 
tude for study and that he loved it. 

Thus it was quite natural that the two boys, Benjamin 
and Wolfe, should become companions in their studies. They 
were both very suited to each other. 



And so history repeated itself, and a great and binding 
friendship grew up between the new Benjamin and the new 

Lnbavitch followed with interest the friendship of Wolfe 
and Benjamin. Both boys studied together and were brought 
up together. Both showed themselves to be very gifted, and 
both were very studious. The whole town spoke with pride 
about them and their abilities, 

When the two boys grew up and could show something 
for their years of study, Tzevi Arieh took them to the Rabbi 
of Lubavitch, Rabbi Shalom Solomon, to examine them. The 
Rav praised them very highly and passed them on to his 
son, Rabbi Joseph the Illuy, asking him to be their teacher. 

Shortly afterwards, Rabbi Shalom Solomon passed away 
and his son Rabbi Joseph succeeded him in his Rabbinical 
post. The boys continued to study under the direction of 
Rabbi Joseph, and made excellent progress. 

Apart from his Talmudical studies, Benjamin excelled 
himself as a musician. He not only sang beautifully, but 
played the violin most enchantingly. Everybody listened 
open-mouthed to his singing and playing, and he thrilled 
them all with the sweetness of his music. They had never 
heard anything like it. 

For four years the two boys Benjamin and Wolfe studied 
under the Rav of Lubavitch, Rabbi Joseph. 

They were already grown up and it was time to consider 
the question of marriage. Tzevi Arieh and Leah Breine were 
doubly interested in the matter. Regarding Wolfe, they were 
ready to agree to a union between him and their daughter 
Sarah. When the wedding eventually took place, all Lubavitch 
joined the happy parents in a great celebration. Everybody in 
Lubavitch, from great to small, attended the wedding which 
was made most enjoyable to all by the violin playing of Ben- 
jamin the bosom friend of the bridegroom, and brother of 
the bride. 

An unexpected guest at the wedding was one of the 
nobles of the district who came especially to hear Benjamin 
sing and play. He had heard of Benjamin's accomplishments 



and wanted to hear for himself whether he was indeed as 
great a musician as was claimed. The fact that this noble 
later sent a special rider on horseback to bring Benjamin to 
sing and play at his next party, proved how impressed he 
was with Benjamin's musical abilities. Benjamin went along 
with a few fellow-musicians of about his own age, and they 
played and sang for the gathering of nobles and men of high 
rank present at the banquet. 

One of the guests, having had more than was good for 
him in the way of "liquid refreshment," thought he would 
have a joke on Benjamin's account. He demanded that Ben- 
jamin dress himself in the skin of an animal and stand on 
an overturned barrel and thus play his violin. It was not 
enough for him that Benjamin and his companions were en- 
tertaining the guests so beautifully with their singing and 
playing. No, he had to have them look ridiculous to complete 
the amusement! 

The other "noble" guests were also somewhat drunk, and 
agreed it would be a good idea, Benjamin, poor fellow, was 
compelled to carry out their crazy suggestion. It is easy to 
imagine how this gifted and sensitive young man felt. He 
could see how little he and his fellow-Jews could expect from 
the "overlords," in spite of all they did to please them. 

But this was not the worst; the merrymaking at the 
Squire's estate went on for several days and nights, and the 
Jewish musicians had to continue their entertainment. The 
assembled nobility continually thought out new forms of en- 
tertainment. It struck one of them that they could have many 
more laughs at Benjamin's expense. A large barrel was filled 
with water and Benjamin was ordered to get into it and sing 
and play whilst floating inside it. Benjamin had the greatest 
difficulty in keeping his head above the water whilst he sang 
and played. It was a terrible ordeal for him, and fraught with 

All this while Benjamin had to pretend that he too 
thought it all a grand joke, and that he was enjoying this 
devilish game as much as they. Benjamin's feelings had been 
quite outraged, but the noble who was the host at the banquet, 



showed recognition of Benjamin's talent by presenting him 
with a brick-built house as a wedding present when he got 

After his marriage, Benjamin continued with his Tal- 
mudic studies, still under the guidance of Rabbi Joseph, being 
supported by his father Tzevi Arieh. Rabbi Joseph had begun 
to show an inclination to going away from time to time to 
live in a self-imposed exile. He used to go away for periods 
of six months or so, and then return to his Rabbinical occu- 
pation in Lubavitch. 

During his absence he used to leave his pupil Benja- 
min to fill his place. Thus passed ten years. Rabbi Benjamin, 
still supported by his father, continued to devote himself 
to the study of the Torah and the service of G-d. The time 
came, however, when Tzevi Arieh died, and Rabbi Benjamin 
was left without financial support. 

It was about the year 5496 (1736) that the Rav of Lu- 
bavitch, Rabbi Joseph, called together the heads of the com- 
munity and said to them: "Until now, when I used to go into 
exile for several months, I myself used to appoint my pupil 
Rabbi Benjamin to carry on in my place, but now I intend to 
go away for not less than two years. It would not be right, 
therefore, for me alone to make the appointment this time; 
I want you to do so." 

The heads of the community all agreed that Rabbi Ben- 
jamin was certainly worthy of being the Rav of Lubavitch. 

Before Rabbi Joseph left Lubavitch, he asked Rabbi 
Benjamin to promise him that during his absence he would, 
out of his salary, make an allowance to his wife and little 
daughter. Rabbi Benjamin readily consented, and so Rabbi 
Joseph could depart into his self-chosen exile, with a light 

Two years later Rabbi Joseph returned home, but did 
not want his Rabbinical position restored to him. He said 
that Rabbi Benjamin had a greater right to it than he, par- 
ticularly as the community was so highly satisfied with 
their new Rav. 



What then should be done about Rabbi Joseph? It was 
unanimously decided that the best solution for all concerned 
would be to appoint Rabbi Joseph as their Maggid (Preacher) 
and Leader of the community. 

Rabbi Joseph now showed his ability in his new role as 
Preacher. He showed an originality in his approach which 
no other preacher of the period had attempted. Many used 
to come to Lubavitch from all parts of the country. They all 
preached in the Beth-Hamidrash and their sermons were 
all of a pattern. They told their listeners that if they sinned 
against G-d and did not repent immediately, they would be 
punished with indescribable tortures in purgatory. It was 
not unusual for the audience, on hearing these prophetic 
warnings and threats, to break out into weeping and wailing. 
The whole atmosphere, amongst the men as well as the 
women, was filled with sighs and groans and tears. 

Not thus was the way of the new preacher Rabbi 
Joseph. He did not pour fire and brimstone upon the "sin- 
ners." He uttered no curses. He did not speak of purgatory 
nor did he threaten them with hellish tortures, 

Instead, he stressed the glorious reward which awaited 
all who studied the Torah and carried out G-d's command- 
ments. He did not want to turn the people to the Torah 
through fear, but rather by winning over the hearts of 
young and old, men, women and children, through goodness, 
sincerity, and above all through understanding. 

Rabbi Joseph was most anxious to lead everbody to the 
right path through love and understanding. He used to say 
that apart from the fact that Jews will be rewarded by the 
Almighty for their good deeds, they at the same time bring 
a great feeling of satisfaction to their Creator. This was 
indeed an entirely new approach. Rabbi Joseph's words 
completely captured the hearts of the congregation. 

Again, when Rabbi Joseph spoke about G-d the Creator 
of the Universe, he did not speak of a "G-d of Vengeance" 
Who throws a feeling of terror over Mankind, but of a "G-d 
of Mercy/' a "Philanthropic G-d" from Whom stream love 
and goodness and Whose sole desire is that man should keep 



to the right path. G-d's wish is not that the wicked should die, 
or be punished for their evil-doing, but that they should 
repent and live to enjoy the benefits of G-d's world. 

Rabbi Joseph also excelled in the manner in which he 
interpreted the sayings of our Sages, and the novel way in 
which he explained them to his hearers. 

He extracted from them the very deepest and most 
beautiful thoughts and ideas. Above all, he awakened in Ms 
audience a great love of G~d. 

He used to say that love and fear of G-d are the founda- 
tions of Judaism, but that love always rates higher than 

"The Love of G-d and the Fear of G-d are two equal 
precepts," he preached, "but nevertheless, love of G-d comes 
first. It is written: 'And thou shalt love the Lord thy G-d/ 
and then later: The Lord thy G-d shalt thou fear/ Thus, 
to worship G-d through love is of a higher order than to 
worship Him through fear only." 

The effect which Rabbi Joseph had upon the Jews of 
Lubavitch through his sermons was extraordinary. He abso- 
lutely carried his listeners into a new world. The style and 
content of his sermons were entirely new and completely 
different from that of any other preacher of that time. Rabbi 
Joseph brought a world of knowledge into his talks, a wealth 
of learning. In addition he was gifted with a fluent and ap- 
pealing power of speech. But this was not all. Rabbi Joseph 
was not satisfied merely to preach "the right way of life/' 
but also lived and practised it. 

Now that he had become the Preacher to the Congrega- 
tion, he endeavored to excel himself in the fineness of his 
character and actions even more than when he was their 
Rav. Above all, Rabbi Joseph's love for every Jew of what- 
ever class or station, manifested itself in all his actions, 
thereby endearing him to every Jewish inhabitant of Lu- 

His sermons were always woven through with the golden 
thread of his love for his people. He always stressed their 



virtues. Rabbi Joseph showed his love especially for the plain, 
simple, ordinary Jew: to the worker, to the poor vendor, 
and to every person who worked and earned an honest living. 

In these simple folk Rabbi Joseph saw the true beauty 
of the Jewish nation, and the real depth of the Jewish soul, 
The popular opinion of the time was that the Scholar was 
the man to whom an elevated position in society was due, 
Rabbi Joseph, however, sought to modify this idea and to 
show that the Jew who was sincere in his Jewish beliefs and 
way of life, even if he were not a man of learning, held an 
equal place in his heart. 

No one in Lubavitch knew where Rabbi Joseph had ac- 
quired his new ideas and his mode of life, and the new 
method of approach in his sermons. But it was agreed by all 
that these innovations had a greatly beneficent effect upon 
the community. Rabbi Joseph had succeeded in bringing new 
life and a new soul into the hearts and lives of the simple 
and ordinary folk of Lubavitch who had heretofore been 
brushed aside. 

Rabbi Joseph's influence upon the Jews was felt not 
only in Lubavitch but also in the surrounding towns and 
townlets. Leaders of other communities, however, becoming 
scared of his "revolutionary" ideas, forbade him to come 
and preach to their congregations. Rabbi Joseph, neverthe- 
less, was a frequent visitor to such places as Rudnia, Kali- 
shok, Yanovitch, Lyozshna, Dubrovne, Dobromysl, Babino- 
vitch, Rososne, and many more, where his influence was 
greatly felt and appreciated. 

Rabbi Joseph continued to disappear periodically, and 
no one knew whither. People guessed that he went to live 
in self-imposed exile, and as he had a regular practice of 
doing this since the time his father was alive, and also when 
he was the Rav of Lubavitch, his disappearances excited no 
comment and no one bothered to get to the bottom of his 
secret. It did not occur to anybody that Rabbi Joseph's dis- 
appearances had any connection with the new doctrine of 
Chassidism which had begun to take root in the Jewish 




The Baal-Shem-Tov as a Mystic. LuJbcrvifcn os o Confer of 
CJiassfdjsm. Secret Visits to the aa/-Sneni-Tov. Healing &f 
the Body and Healing of the Soul. A Cfcassicfic Doctrine. 


About the year 5425 (1665) a group of Mystics had band 
ed themselves together, taking upon themselves the urgent 
task of trying to uplift and improve the spiritual position of 
the Jews. 

These Mystics were of various types. There were 
some who were exceptional scholars and saintly men, who 
chose to travel about incognito, and wander in exile for the 
betterment of their souls, and do penance for their sins on 
this earth. Others, also without revealing their identity, pass- 
ed through the many towns and townlets where Jews lived, 
bringing with them that spirit of courage and hope, of which 
the poor Jews were then so badly in need, 

This was still before the time when the Baal-Shem-Tov 
appeared on the Jewish scene. It was in the period following 
the terrible massacres of 5408-9 (1648-9). Whole communi- 
ties had been destroyed, and despair was rampant amongst 
Jews in general who could not seem to get onto their feet. 
Because of the terrible poverty resulting, young Jewish chil- 
dren were compelled to do hard work, totally unsuited to their 
feeble strength and tender years. This they did, either so 
as not be a burden to their parents, or in order to help support 
their parents. 



Obviously, under these conditions, no time or thought 
could be spared for the education of these unfortunate chil- 
dren. Many of them had to leave the "Chedarim" and Yeshi- 
voth, and in consequence they were growing up to be absolute 
ignoramuses. Though the majority of them tried to keep 
Judaism, they knew nothing or next to nothing of the holy 

The task of the Mystics therefore was indeed a gigantic 
one : to visit these neglected children and their parents, wher- 
ever they were to be found, and try to imbue them with new 
courage and faith in their future. Thus these Mystics became 
their teachers and leaders, bringing them faith and consola- 
tion and learning. Their influence was incalculable! 

The Baal-Shem-Tov was born in the year 5458 (1698). 
Tradition has it that even at the tender age of ten, he at- 
tached himself to a group of Mystics and wandered together 
with them amongst the Jewish settlements, helping in the 
aforementioned great and holy work of calling the Jews back 
to the service of the Creator. 

Later on, when he began to spread his new mode of Chas- 
sidism, he established, through the Mystics, a whole network 
of activity in this connection. He wanted to prepare the ground 
first, and then later emerge publicly with his new Chassidic 

As we shall see in due course, the Baal Shem Tov in 
his role of Mystic aimed to help Jews to improve their material 
position, by urging them to get back to working on the land, 
and to undertake other manual jobs, which would make them, 
self-supporting. Once he saw them established in the way 
he had advised them, and more or less materially provided 
for, he set about seeing to their spiritual welfare. 

Many are the stories told about the Baal-Shem-Tov, of 
his youth and of his adult years. 

It is known that when a young man, he was an assistant 
to a "Melamed" (Hebrew teacher). He himself said of this 

"When I was a young assistant teacher, I worked so hard 
to teach the young children to respect and love their parents. 



I always tried to point out and emphasize their good qualities." 

The Baal-Shem-Tov realized even then, how necessary it 
was to create a strong bond between the children and their 
parents and elders. Under the difficult and trying times in 
which the Jews then lived, the parents had little or no oppor- 
tunity of training or influencing their children, and so there 
was the ever-present danger of estrangement. 

This the Baal-Shem-Tov made every effort to combat, by 
literally going from house to house, not like a beggar, (al- 
though maybe dressed like one) , but richly laden with his 
spiritual gifts. He used to gather around him as many Jews 
as possible outside in the open, where he used to stand and 
tell them endless stories and sayings of our Sages, which he 
explained to his listeners in a clear voice and simple manner, 
which just captivated their hearts. 

Every tale the Baal-Shem-Tov told was woven through 
with love towards the Almighty and towards His people Israel. 
Everything he narrated contained some moral teaching. 

This was a great and noble task which the Baal-Shem-Tov 
had undertaken. For most of these poor Jews had no Beth- 
Hamidrash to go to, and even those who had, had neither the 
time nor the opportunity to spare from their hard-working 
day to go to a Beth-Hamidrash to "dawen" or listen to a 
word of Torah. So it was to these ordinary, uneducated peo- 
ple that the Baal-Shem-Tov came, bringing the Torah to them. 

The Baal-Shem-Tov did not reveal himself at first, 
except to a chosen few. His pupils and followers, however, 
were secretly beginning to introduce his teachings to more 
and more of their fellow-Jews. Hiding their true identity, 
the Baal-Shem-Tov's followers used to travel from town to 
town and when they succeeded in finding a lofty and recep- 
tive soul, they tried to win him over to the new teachings of 
the Baal-Shem-Tov. Such a Mystic, in his wanderings, arrived 
in Lubavitch when Rabbi Joseph was still a young man, de- 
voting himself entirely to his Talmudic studies and service of 
G-d. His father was then occupying the position of Rav. The 
new arrival became acquainted with Rabbi Joseph and greatly 
interested in him. 



Rabbi Joseph had already been looking for a new way 
of Jewish life. He was eager to investigate that which the 
Mystic had revealed to him of the Baal-Shem-Tov and his 
Chassidic teachings. For a whole month, the Mystic who had 
the appearance of an ordinary traveler, remained in Luba- 
vitch spending his time revealing to Rabbi Joseph the teach- 
ings of the Baal-Shem-Tov. By the time he was ready to 
leave Lubavitch, Rabbi Joseph had decided to leave with him. 

No one knew of the contact between the two, neither 
did anyone connect their simultaneous departure in any way. 
Actually, however, the Mystic had taken Rabbi Joseph along 
with him to the Baal-Shem-Tov, and Rabbi Joseph immedi- 
ately became an ardent and enthusiastic devotee of the lat- 
ter's Chassidic teachings. 

Rabbi Joseph stayed away from Lubavitch for a whole 
year, and on his return told nobody where he had spent 
his time. He spoke to no one of the new doctrine of the 
Baal-Shem-Tov. The time was not yet ripe for Rabbi Joseph 
to reveal the secret of his connection with the Baal-Shem- 
Tov and his disciples. 

It was in the year 5495 (1735) that Rabbi Joseph was 
first brought to the Baal-Shem-Tov, and it took 15 years, 
5510 (1750), before the Baal-Shem-Tov gave him a special 
mission to carry out, Rabbi Joseph then being already the 
Preacher of Lubavitch. 

It was the Feast of Shovuoth. Rabbi Joseph spent the 
festival at the home of the Baal-Shem, having left Lubavitch 
on one of his customary "wanderings." He had neither given 
any clue to his destination nor any reason for his going. 
The Baal-Shem called Rabbi Joseph to his room and told 
him that on his return journey to Lubavitch he should stop 
at Smargon and call at the Yeshivah there, which was at 
that time famous. He would find there a student from the 
townlet of Kobilnick near Minsk. His name was Issachar Dov. 
The Baal-Shem advised Rabbi Joseph to take this Yeshivah 
student as a husband for his only daughter. 

Rabbi Joseph naturally followed this advice. On arrival 
at Smargon, he followed the usual procedure of obtaining 



an introduction to Issachar Dov of Kobilnick, through the 
Head of the Yeshivah, and put forward to Issachar Dov the 
suggested alliance between him and his daughter. Issachar 
Dov was glad to become the son-in-law of the Preacher of 
Lubavitch and so it was all arranged. They decided that 
Issachar Dov should stay yet another year at the Smargon 
Yeshivah. During this year, Issachar Dov had made a great 
friend and companion of a brilliant student from Minsk, 
named Menahem Mendel. This student had at times depu- 
tised for the Head of the Yeshivah, Rabbi Zorach Eliah 
Krittinger. This Menahem Mendel was the one and the same 
personality who later became one of the leading lights in 
Chassidism. At the beginning of the month of Elul in the 
year 5511 (1751) Rabbi Issachar Dov arrived in Lubavitch 
and became the son-in-law of Rabbi Joseph, the Preacher of 

Rabbi Issachar Dov lived at the home of Rabbi Joseph 
and was thus able to continue to devote himself to the study 
of the Torah. 

At that time the number of learned young men in Lu- 
bavitch was small. Those who were anxious to study the 
Torah did not remain in Lubavitch. They went rather to 
the various famous Yeshivoth of that period. One of these 
was at Vitebsk. For the younger students, Lubavitch had 
eight teachers, three for elementary pupils and five for stu- 
dents of Talmud. 

When Rabbi Issachar Dov arrived in Lubavitch, there 
happened to be a remarkable dispute taking place between 
the Rav of the town, Rabbi Benjamin, and his brother-in- 
law Rabbi Wolfe. At the time when Rabbi Benjamin was Rav, 
his brother-in-law Rabbi Wolfe had decided to earn his liv- 
ing by the work of his own hands, and for this purpose he 
bought a small mill outside the town. 

It soon became clear that Rabbi Wolfe had the intention 
of following in the steps of his martyred father. From time 
to time he left home and went into exile. He was then already 
the father of two daughters. Whilst he was in exile the whole 
burden of support fell upon his wife Sarah, Rabbi Benjamin's 



sister. For this reason Rabbi Benjamin was extremely dis- 
satisfied with Rabbi Wolfe's way of going on, and thus they 
reached a parting of the ways. Learning of the dispute, 
Rabbi Issachar Dov put in a good word for Rabbi Wolfe and 
said he was doing the right thing. 

A friendship sprang up between the Preacher's son-in- 
law Rabbi Issachar Dov and the Rav's brother-in-law Rabbi 
Wolfe. The former arranged a time when they could study 

There was then living in Lubavitch a certain Sholom 
Gershon who earned his living by trading in the nearby vil- 
lages. In addition he was a butcher. Everybody recognized 
him as an honest and G-d-fearing Jew, and he was indeed 
a man of great virtue. 

For this reason his customers were confident that they 
could rely on the Kashruth of the meat that Sholom Gershon 
sold to them. Sholom Gershon was successful, which enabled 
him to give charity generously. Every Friday morning he 
used to bring meat to the Rav, Rabbi Benjamin, and to the 
Preacher, Rabbi Joseph. 

He dispensed charity amongst the poor and needy 
with an open hand. To some he sent a present of meat, to 
others monetary gifts. Thus passed many years until Sho- 
lom Gershon had reached old age, yet he carried on with his 
trading in the villages, and kept his butcher-shop as always. 

In the winter of 5512 (1752) he became ill and died 
within a few weeks. All Lubavitch grieved at his passing, 
and attended his funeral. 

After the funeral, all Lubavitch was astonished to learn 
that the butcher Sholom Gershon had left a large fortune 
behind. Rabbi Benjamin, the Rav of Lubavitch, asked that 
a Minyan should pray three times daily in Sholom Gershon's 
house until the end of the thirty days' mourning period. 
During the first seven days of mourning (Shiva), Rabbi Ben- 
jamin disclosed that the butcher had left a box containing 
money, together with a will. The time had now come to open 
the box of money and look into the contents of the will. 
Sholom Gershon had no heirs. All the years that the people 



of Lubavitch knew him, he had been alone. The only person 
who had been particularly friendly with him was the Scribe 
Reb Zebulun, who had been a neighbor of his. 

Everybody was naturally eager to know for whom Sho- 
lom Gershon had left his money. So the Rav called together 
the heads of the community and read out the will in their 
presence. The will stated (a) That there should be three 
Executors. Two of them should be Rabbi Benjamin, the Rav 
of the community, and Rabbi Joseph the Preacher, and they 
both should appoint a third Executor. The three Executors 
were to decide to what purpose the money should be put, and 
how it should be spent, (b) That on the spot where Sholom 
Gershon's house and garden were situated, there should be 
erected a Beth-Hamidrash for "The Society of the Poale 
Tzedek." (c) That a learned man be appointed as Teacher 
to teach the workers Midrash, Mishnayoth, and similar sub- 
jects at the Beth-Hamidrash; his salary for three years to 
be paid out of the funds of the estate. 

The third person chosen by Rabbi Benjamin and Rabbi 
Joseph as Executor was Zebulun the Scribe. The three soon 
set about carrying out the instructions of the butcher's will. 
Now that everybody knew what a righteous man Sholom 
Gershon had been, it was not difficult to find people willing 
to come to the Minyan. 

Many of the most important people in the town, amongst 
them Rabbi Benjamin and Rabbi Joseph, came along to pray 
in the house of the deceased. Knowing that when the will 
would be executed, there would be a Beth-Hamidrash in the 
place of Sholom Gershon's house, it was easy for the wor- 
shippers to feel that the house was in fact a House of Prayer. 
Not only were Services held there three times daily, but the 
Congregation stayed to study Talmud with great zeal. Pious 
Jews came there before dawn and studied or read the Psalms 
until it was time for the Morning Service. Between the after- 
noon and Evening Services, study continued. After the Eve- 
ning Service others found their way there for the purpose 
of study. So that Sholom Gershon's house became a veritable 
holy place. 



Before the thirty days had yet passed, a committee was 
formed to see to the building of the Beth-Hamidrash accord- 
ing to the terms of the will. During the summer months, the 
old house was razed to the ground, and a new and beautiful 
Beth-Hamidrash began to spring up in its place. By the time 
the month of Elul came around, the Beth-Hamidrash was 
complete and its "Dedication" was celebrated with great 
joy. A teacher was appointed to instruct the worshippers in 
Mishnayoth and Midrash. 

The Preacher Rabbi Joseph who had always shown so 
much love for ordinary working men, now made it his prac- 
tice to come and pray in the new Beth-Hamidrash. Actually 
he divided his attendances equally between the old Beth- 
Hamidrash and the new one. 

But Zebulun the Scribe who was a member of "The Poale 
TzedeR," came regularly to the new Beth-Hamidrash. Here, 
in a small room, Rabbi Joseph and Zebulun used to meet 
from time to time and study just the two of them together. 

For two years they studied together in this way. It is 
easy to assume that their study was connected with Kabbalah 
and Chassidism. 

Once, on a certain morning, Rabbi Joseph and Zebulun 
left Lubavitch, supposedly on a self-imposed "exile." In re- 
ality their destination was Medzibush, the seat of the Baal- 
Shem-Tov. Rabbi Joseph had already won Zebulun over to 
the new teachings of Chassidism and had taken him to visit 
the Baal-Shem-Tov. They were both absent from Lubavitch 
for three or four months. When they returned to Lubavitch, 
both their faces were radiant with a strange inner happiness 
clearly indicating that they had not suffered any hardships 
during their supposed "exile." 


It was the year 5515 (1755), the third year after the 
Preacher Rabbi Joseph had taken Rabbi Issachar Dov to be 
his son-in-law. The father-in-law finally disclosed to his son- 



:ii4aw that he and the Scribe Zebulun were disciples of the 
Baal-Shem-Tov, and whenever they disappeared from Luba- 
vitch their destination was Medzibush where they visited their 
new leader. The Preacher now began to introduce his son-in- 
law into the new Chassidic teachings which quickly caught his 
interest. A new world was revealed to him. All that he had 
failed to understand previously now became clear to him. 

In Elul of that year Issachar Dov went together with 
Zebulun to visit the Baal-Shem-Tov, Rabbi Joseph had to 
stay in Lubavitch to preach to the Congregation during the 
High Festivals. 

For three months Issachar Dov stayed with the Baal- 
Shem-Tov. He spent the High Festivals there and saw the 
Baal-Shem-Tov in all his majestic splendor. He took notice 
of his manner of living, and paid attention to the way he 
prayed. He also listened to his interpretation of the Torah, 
Everything comprised to turn him into a bumingly enthusias- 
tic Chassid! He still had much to learn though. So when lie 
returned home, he delved deeply into the study of Chassidism. 
Now they were a three-some in Lubavitch the Preacher 
Rabbi Joseph, the Scribe Zebulun, and the young Issachar 
Dov. They were able to get together to study Chassidism and 
to share their opinions about various matters of high conse- 
quence. No one in Lubavitch or elsewhere learned of their 
secret that they were "Chassidim" and followers of the 
Baal-Shem-Tov of Medzibush, whose name was beginning 
to be known in the Jewish world, but whom it was not yet 
safe to follow openly. 

The time had not yet come for the disciples of the Baal- 
Shem-Tov to come out into the open with the new teachings 
of their Rabbi. The time was not ripe for this, particularly 
in White Russia, Lithuania and the neighboring countries. 
These countries had to wait for those great souls, especially 
"The Old Rabbi," Rabbi Shneur Zalman, the founder of "Cha- 
bad/' who introduced the teachings of the Baal-Shem-Tov 



to the Jews of these very districts and established them there 
for the coming generations. 

And so meanwhile, these three disciples of the Baal-Shem- 
Tov studied Chassidism together in Lubavitch, perfecting 
themselves in his teachings and strengthening themselves 
in their own good deeds, thus preparing the ground for Chas- 
sidism in the future. Already their new way of life their 
good deeds, their love for the ordinary worker, their new 
approach towards the unlearned to implant in them the love 
for Judaism all these things were a means of paving the 
way for the future Chassidic leaders and followers. 

And as we see, it was actually in Lubavitch itself that 
the foundation of Chassidism was laid. No wonder then 
that Lubavitch became the home of "Chabad" and the very 
center of Chassidism for White Russia and Lithuania. Not 
only did these three righteous men lay the foundations of 
Chassidism in Lubavitch, but Lubavitch was also the place 
where Shneur Zalman received his early instruction in the 
Torah and from none other than Rabbi Issachar Dov. Thus, 
long before the teacher and founder of "Chabad" knew of 
Chassidism, and perhaps even before he had heard of the 
Baal-Shem-Tov (for he was then but a lad of twelve years of 
age), he was already acquainted with the basic tenets of 
Chassidism as expounded by the Preacher Rabbi Joseph in 
his sermons. Shneur Zalman was thus influenced not only 
by his teacher Rabbi Issachar Dov, but also by his teacher's 
father-in-law the Preacher Rabbi Joseph, and maybe also by 
the Scribe Zebulun, since the three always kept together. 
The spirit of Chassidism could be felt in all their talk, in 
their manner of living, and in their attitude towards their 
fellow-beings, especially in their love for the "common man." 

It was this love for the common man that was, and re- 
mained, the real basis of the teachings of the Baal-Shem- 
Tov. He did not seek for high scholarship amongst Jews. 
He valued more the heart. The Jew who could read his pray- 



ers in Hebrew, even if he did not know the translation, the 
mere fact of his sincere utterance of these holy words in 
Hebrew, was a source of satisfaction to the Almighty in 
heaven, the Baal-Shem declared. 

The Baal-Shem-Tov also felt that very much could be 
achieved with these ordinary men who only knew a chapter 
or so of the Psalms. These so-called "common" people who 
had always heretofore been brushed aside by the intellectuals, 
and attacked, in the sharpest terms, by the preachers; these 
were the people who were now uplifted by the interest and 
devotion of the Baal-Shem-Tov, and it was from amongst 
them also that he began to draw a big following. 

Here is a characteristic example of one of the Baal- 
Shem-Tov's talks: "Until the time of our Patriarch Abraham/' 
the Baal-Shem-Tov declared, "the world was in darkness. .In 
Abraham's age there were no righteous men, and there were 
no teachers to show the people of that period the right path, 
or to ask for mercy on their souls. But. when Abraham our 
Patriarch came, he began to bring light to the world by 
teaching the people of his generation the true way to serve 
the Creator. He evoked the Divine mercy of the Creator 
towards his humble creatures. Even for the wicked and sinful 
inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham tried to evoke 
G-d's mercy. 

"And yet/' continued the Baal-Shem-Tov, "the people of 
Abraham's time were called 'A nation like unto an ass/ but 
the Jewish people is never subject to such a comparison. 
The true "Am haaretz" (people of the land) by which 
the unlearned Jewish man is called, is not really meant to be 
derogatory. By just this term the Jewish masses are com- 
pared to the soil. 

"For like the soil, everyone treads upon the Jew, but 
G-d had in this very soil put the power to bring forth all 
kinds of plants and fruits wherewith to sustain all His crea- 
tures. In the soil are also to be found all such treasures as 
gold, silver, diamonds, and all the other precious and im- 
portant metals and minerals. So too are the Jewish folk : they 



are full of the finest and most precious qualities that man 
can possess, even the most ordinary among them. As our 
Sages said : 'Even the unworthy among you are full of virtue 
as a pomegranate is full of seeds!' " 


The Jewish world at large at that time suffered from 
two kinds of troubles: spiritual and material. They suffered 
spiritually because the majority of them were ordinary, uned- 
ucated people, looked down upon and spurned by the educated 
minority. And they suffered materially because they or their 
parents had mostly fled from the Cossack pogroms of the years 
5408-5409 (1648-1649) , and were still not settled economically. 

The bloody tragedy of these years, when masses of Jews 
were slaughtered and many Jewish Communities were de- 
stroyed, brought about that hundreds and thousands of Jews 
had to flee from the villages and townlets where they had 
no protection, and take refuge in the larger towns. This 
caused an overcrowding of the towns and much unemploy- 
ment, as there were not enough jobs, or other means of earn- 
ing a living, for everybody. Many Jews suffered hunger and 
did not know which way to turn to solve their dilemma. The 
Baal-Shem-Tov began his work in the year 5470 (1710), 
over 60 years after the aforementioned bloody years, during 
which period the position of the Jews had not improved either 
spiritually or materially. 

The Baal-Shem-Tov realized that first of all the Jews 
must be provided with the means of earning a living. Con- 
sequently, with the help of his secret followers, he started 
a strong campaign in Podolhya and surrounding provinces, 
urging the Jews to leave the large towns, and to settle in the 
smaller towns and villages and take up manual and agricul- 
tural work. If one had not the possibility of procuring a 
sizable piece of land, he had to satisfy himself with an allot- 



ment, where he could grow greens and vegetables, or breed 
poultry or cattle. 

The Mystics not only encouraged the unemployed Jews 
in the towns and townlets to commence a new life, a produc- 
tive, self-supporting life, based on the labor of their own 
hands, but themselves showed an example how to proceed on 
the suggested lines. 

That is why so many of the Mystics became manual 
and agricultural workers, with Lubavitch (as one of the 
points where Jews could take up such occupations at that 
time) becoming a center of Mystics who were all, or nearly 
all, disciples or followers of the Baal-Shem-Tov. 

This was carried out in accordance with the Raal-Shem- 
Tov's policy that the first duty of himself and his followers 
was to heal the Jewish "body," and then to set about healing 
the Jewish spirit and the Jewish soul. 

For this reason the Baal-Shem-Tov's activities were di- 
vided into two phases. Firstly, through the yet unrec- 
ognized Mystics, he devoted himself to the Jewish "body," 
and secondly, as the world-revealed Baal-Shem-Tov, he oc- 
cupied himself with the great task of caring for the spiritual 
welfare of the Jews and with the healing of their souls. 

The Baal-Shem-Tov's activities in the first years were 
entirely devoted to the ordinary folk, whilst in the latter 
years he devoted his attention also to the scholars and men 
of loftier souls. 

Quoting our Sages, the Baal-Shem-Tov preached: "The 
Jews are compared to a vine, of which the grapes represent 
the scholars, and the leaves the simple folk. The leaves of the 
vine have two important functions: (a) They are essential 
to the growth of the vine, and (b) they have a paramount 
task of protecting the grapes and therefore are of the great- 
est importance, since the power of the protector is greater 
than that of the protected." 

This and similar teachings of the Baal-Shem-Tov served 
to uplift the spirits of the simple folk and raise their self- 



The work of the secret followers of the Baal-Shem-Tov 
was widespread, and was carried on with a high degree of 
discipline. Thus, when the time came for the Baal-Shem-Tov 
to be revealed, many towns and townlets were already well 
established centers of Chassidism. The disciples of the Baal- 
Shem-Tov were at their appointed posts, each with a definite 
task and all serving the same definite aim the uplifting of 
the Jewish masses. In the course of twenty-five years the 
teachings of the Baal-Shem-Tov were in this way spread 
from Podolhya over the Ukraine and Poland, and were also 
brought as far as Lithuania and White Russia in the north. 
Lithuania, however, was the most difficult "fortress" to cap- 
ture. Lithuania was not only the center of Jewish learning, 
but also the center of opposition to Chassidism. 

The opposition came from two directions. From the 
"Misnagdim" who already before the time of the Baal-Shem- 
Tov's revelation, raised a storm of protest against this new 
way of life, and from the "Frankists," with whom the Baal- 
Shem-Tov and his disciples had many discussions in public, 
and always emerged the victors. After the passing of the 
Baal-Shem-Tov, these opponents expected the Chassidic move- 
ment to collapse, as there could be no one now to stand at 
the helm. 

The enemies of Chassidism little knew that the Baal- 
Shem-Tov had built up a strong organization, a well-disci- 
plined corps of workers to carry on and make progress. 

Rabbi Tzevi, the only son of the Baal-Shem-Tov, had been 
appointed leader of the Chassidic world. He was not strong 
enough, however, to carry on with this appointment, as it 
called for exceptional powers both within the movement for 
his own followers, and outside it for those in opposition who 
were already beginning to raise their heads. 

On Shovuoth (5521) , the first anniversary of the passing 
of the Baal-Shem-Tov was held. Rabbi Tzevi had just con- 
cluded his Torah discourse, sitting at the head of the table. 
Suddenly he rose from his chair with these words: "Today 
my father appeared to me and requested me to transfer the 



leadership, in the presence of all the holy assembly, to Rabbi 
Berenyu.* 'Let Rabbi Berenyu take your place at the head of 
the table, and you, my child, take his place/ my father said/' 

Rabbi Tzevi then took off his robes of office and handed 
them to Rabbi Ber, congratulating him with a hearty 
"Mazaltov"! They exchanged robes and places and thus Rabbi 
Ber became the Chassidic leader. Under his leadership the 
Chassidic movement began to spread and grow anew. Later, 
when Rabbi Ber was already in Mezeritch, there carrying on 
his holy work, drawing new disciples, the best and finest 
spiritual forces of that time, Rabbi Shneur Zalman was also 
attracted, and became a disciple of his. 

It was this Rabbi Shneur Zalman, known by his followers 
as the "Old Rabbi/' upon whom fell the task of capturing the 
strongest "fortress'* of opposition Lithuania. 

For Lithuania there had to be formed a special intellect- 
ual "brand" of Chassidism, the Chassidism of "Chabad," in 
order to find a foothold there. This particular kind of Chas- 
sidism, based on wisdom^ understanding^ knowledge^ was 
founded by the "Old Rabbi" only five years after the passing 
of the Baal-Shem-Tov, four years after Rabbi Ber, the 
Preacher of Mezeritch, had taken over the Baal-Shem-Tov's 

As already mentioned, Rabbi Shneur Zalman was bound 
up with Lubavitch where he studied in his youth under Rabbi 
Issachar Dov, and therefore, though the "Old Rabbi" had his 
home previously in Lyozshna and subsequently in Liady, 
Lubavitch may be said to be the real cradle of Chabad Chassi- 
dism. In the next generation, however, when the "Mitteler 
Rebbe" settled in Lubavitch, this town became the actual seat 
of the Chabad leaders. The author of "Tzemach Tzedek" (who 
succeeded the "Mitteler Rebbe" and who also lived in Lu- 
bavitch) termed Lubavitch as "the channel" through which 
streamed Chassidic love and friendship. "One must be merci- 
ful to oneself and to others and help one another," the au- 

* Affectionate for Ber. 



thor of "Tzemach Tzedek" preached. "One must try to im- 
prove one's character and serve the community according to 
Chassidic teachings." No wonder then that "Chabad" and 
"Lubaviteh" became words almost synonymous. The one in- 
fluenced the other. 

With this introduction we come to the history of Chabad, 
beginning with the history of the saintly personalities who 
formed it at its birth, as the tradition of the House of Luba- 
viteh handed it down and as it is recorded in our archives. 



Baruch's New Way of Life 

Ance$fry of the founder of CJiaibad Chassfeffsm. flaJbibl Mo$@s 
of Fosere Settles In Vitebsk. The Orphan Baruch ancf hfs 
Trials.- The Power of faith. Harwell's Secret Is Jleveafecf. 


Our records begin with the gaon Rabbi Moses who lived 
in Posen, then a kind of independent state. Rabbi Moses was 
renowned for his learning as well as for his wealth. He was 
also blessed with sons and daughters. One of his sons was call- 
ed Shneur Zalman (after whom the author of the "Tanya" was 
named). Shneur Zalman was entirely different from Rabbi 
Moses* other sons. He was delicate and ailing from birth. This, 
however, did not interfere with his studying Torah day and 
night. He was also very fond of solitude. Whilst his other 
brothers devoted themselves to business, he devoted himself 
entirely to Torah study. When he became twenty years of age 
he married the daughter of a certain Baruch, nicknamed the 
"Ratlan" probably on account of his living a life far removed 
from this world. 

This Baruch was very likely a poor man and Rabbi 
Moses must have agreed to the marriage only because of his 
fine spiritual qualities. Instead of Shneur Zalman being 
supported by his father-in-law (as was the custom at that 
time) , he and his wife lived for six years after their marriage 
at the home of his father. It seems that Rabbi Moses and his 
other brothers wanted Shneur Zalman, to take to business 



like themselves, but Shneur Zalman declined and preferred 
rather to make a poor living out of teaching. From that time 
he refused altogether to accept support from his rich father 
and brothers. 

His family might have remained peacefuly in Posen 
had not then sprung up the so-called "Haskalah Movement." 
This was indeed a danger to the Jewish faith. Rabbi Moses 
and some other Jewish inhabitants began to fear that they 
would not be able to continue serving G-d and studying Torah 
as before, and so decided to wander forth, hoping to reach 
White Russia where there were large Jewish centers. 

Thus they wandered from town to town until they came 
to White Russia. Rabbi Moses and one of his sons settled in 
Minsk. Two other sons, Judah and Mordecai, settled in Orsha, 
in the district of Mogilev. Shneur Zalman, his wife and their 
daughter Deborah Leah accompanied those families of Posen, 
by whom he was engaged as Teacher. They all settled in Vi- 
tebsk, and Shneur Zalman continued with his teaching. Three 
years later Shneur Zalman's wife gave birth to a son and 
they named him Baruch after his grandfather Baruch the 
"Batlan," who had died in Posen prior to their departure. 

Little Baruch was a healthy child and developed very 
nicely, physically as well as mentally. Shneur Zalman lived 
in one of the poor and narrow streets on the outskirts of 
Vitebsk, not far from the river Dvina. Spreading out from 
there were gardens, fields, meadows and orchards. Poverty 
was therefore felt less in this part of the town where one was 
so near to Nature. Shneur Zalman had always been a lover 
of Nature. He always wanted to be close to G-d's creation, and 
this feeling he implanted in his son Baruch from birth. 

The majestic Dvina and the beautiful gardens, fields, 
meadows and orchards became deeply engraved on the mind 
of little Baruch from childhood. This however did not disturb 
him from studying the Torah. For when he was but four 
years of age his father carried him, wrapped in a Tallis, to an 
elementary teacher. He himself was a teacher of a higher 
category. Baruch needed a preparatory course before he 
would be able to be taught by his father. Baruch soon showed 



great keeness for study. He had barely been taught a year 
when he already knew a good deal of Chumash thoroughly. 

Very soon Shneur Zalman transferred him to a second 
teacher who taught the little Baruch Talmud. When Baruch 
became seven years old, Shneur Zalman took him into his 
own school and placed him amongst his other pupils. For 
three years he studied under his father and showed re- 
markable ability. He quickly overtook and passed his com- 
panions who were all very much older than he. Apart from 
the fact that Shneur Zalman taught his son, he in addition 
often spent time with him, just the two of them together. He 
took his small Baruch for long walks on the banks of the 
Dvina. They walked through fields and meadows and Shneur 
Zalman talked to him all the time about Torah, and told him 
all about the wonders of G-d's creation. 

These walks under the open sky, with G-d's beautiful 
world before their eyes, evoked in Baruch's heart a great 
love for Nature, and a desire for being alone with Nature, 
far from people. 

Thus, from his early youth, Baruch showed an inclina- 
tion towards solitude. When he became Bar-Mitzvah he was 
already thoroughly versed in several Sedarim of Mishnayoth, 
and knew several tractates of Gemorro by heart. Baruch 
could now study on his own without the help of a teacher. 
This his father allowed him to do, only indicating what he 
should learn and how he should arrange his studies. 

Now that he was not tied to a teacher or school, Baruch 
used to take his Gemorro and any other books recommended 
by his father, and go off to the river bank, and there, on a 
stone, or stretched out on the soft grass, he delved deeply into 
his studies. 

Far from being a deterrent, the beauty of Nature en- 
couraged him in his studies. The splash of the flowing water, 
the singing of the birds, and the buzzing of the bees, all these 
formed one chorus of nature which harmonized with his 
own singing with which he accompanied his learning. 

A year after Bar-Mitzvah, his mother became seriously 



ill with a fever and several months later died. Soon after this, 
Shneur Zalman also became ill and within six months, he 
too passed away. Baruch was now doubly orphaned. The 
death of both his parents had a shattering effect upon him. 
The pain and sorrow of the fourteen-year-old lad absolutely 
cut him up. Whether it was because he was bound up with 
them in affection, particularly with his father, or whether 
it was simply because he suddenly felt so lonely, he walked 
about in a world of desolation. During the period of mourning 
Baruch, as the only son left to say Kaddish, used to go to the 
Beth-Hamidrash and lead the prayers. He also used to learn 
Mishnayoth for the souls of his departed parents. With all 
this, however, he could not still his great pain. It was obvious 
to all that young Baruch was losing health and they saw the 
effect his misfortune had upon his spirit. In Vitebsk Baruch 
had an aunt Frieda, whose husband was called Kaddish. They 
took Baruch and his sister Deborah Leah to live with them 
and did their best to be kind and friendly to them. Deborah 
Leah was more or less comforted, but Baruch could find no 
peace of mind even in the home of his kind relatives. 

One day Baruch informed his uncle, aunt and his sister 
that he had decided to leave Vitebsk. "I shall go to some place 
of Torah-study," he declared. "Where will you get to? You 
are too young to wander about/' they tried to plead with him. 
"Better stay with us. You will be short of nothing/' 

However, all their talk availed them nothing. Young 
Baruch had already decided what he intended to do and would 
not allow anyone to change his mind. A few days passed and 
Baruch left Vitebsk without leaving any trace behind him. 
Meanwhile the tragic news of the death of Shneur Zalman 
and his wife reached Rabbi Moses who, as we know, had 
settled in Minsk where he carried on his business with great 
success. He at once sent a special messenger to Vitebsk to 
bring his two orphaned grandchildren to live with him, and 
they would literally have everything they wished for. 

When this messenger arrived in Vitebsk, Baruch had 
already left the town and no one knew which direction he had 



taken. The messenger could not take Deborah Leah either, 
for her uncle and aunt were childless and did not want to let 
her go. And so she stayed with them until she married. 

Meanwhile, Baruch wandered about the towns and town- 
lets around Vitebsk and could find no permanent place of 
rest. For three years he wandered thus. He spent some time 
in Dobromysl, Kalisk, and other townlets. Wherever he came, 
he settled down in the Beth-Hamidrash to study, but absolute- 
ly refused to accept support either from public or private 
sources. As was then the custom, anyone who studied in the 
Beth-Hamidrash was invited to have a day's meals at the 
home of one or another of the local Jews, and if the student 
did not wish to sleep in the Beth-Hamidrash, a room was 
found for him in a private house. 

Baruch, however, was not interested in all these arrange- 
ments. But how then could he live? He solved the problem by 
becoming a wood-cutter and water-carrier, or else he assisted 
the stall-holders on market-days. Baruch was not ashamed to 
do any kind of honest work; nothing was beneath him, nor too 
hard. He followed the view of the Sages, "Better to skin a 
carcass in the market place than to accept alms." 

But many people failed to understand Baruch and few 
bothered to discover the motives of the young lad. Many 
put him down as eccentric and dismissed him from their 
minds with a shrug of the shoulder and a gesture of the 
hand, whilst others paid him not even that attention, and 
took no notice of him whatsoever. Baruch was not at all 
concerned about the matter. Let people think of him what 
they would or not at all, as long as they left him in peace to 
carry on in his own sweet way. 

And so nobody disturbed him in the slightest degree 
wherever he went, and thus he wandered forth to another 
townlet, where he again took up his own particular way of 
life, studying day and night in the Beth-Haniidrash, and earn- 
ing his modest living by means of the hardest tasks he could 
obtain, so long as it paid for his humble needs. 




After Baruch had wandered through a whole range of 
townlets, he eventually arrived at Lyozshna. There he soon 
settled down to study in the large Beth-Hamidrash. Baruch 
had saved a little money from the various arduous jobs 
which he had done in all the townlets where he had been. 
However small had been his earnings, his daily needs were 
always smaller. A small piece of dry bread, something with 
the bread, and Baruch was satisfied. Shoes, clothing these 
were matters of little importance to him. That is why he 
managed to bring with him to Lyozshna a small "nest egg 51 
which would keep him supplied with his humble requirements 
for some time. 

Thus was Baruch able to settle down to his studies in 
the Beth-Hamidrash undisturbed, and with great zeal. This 
was truly a happy period for this seventeen-year-old youth. 
No worries about making a living and free to study by day 
and by night! 

When a youth such as Baruch, an unknown stranger, 
comes along and settles down so assiduously to study in the 
Beth-Hamidrash, demanding nothing from anybody even to 
the value of a cent, it was bound to attract attention. Ezra, 
the beadle of the Beth-Hamidrash, was the first to take notice 
of the young student. He asked Baruch if he was sure he 
wouldn't like someone to supply him with meals and other 
necessities? Baruch declared he neither desired nor needed 
help from anyone. He had all he required. 

Baruch, having made the Beth-Hamidrash his home, 
often helped the beadle in his various tasks. He helped him 
to sweep the Beth-Hamidrash; he brought water for the 
basin and carried out the water in which the worshippers had 
washed their hands. He helped to light the lamps and candles 
before Shabbos and on other days of the week. In fact he 
almost became Ezra's assistant. Although the beadle wanted 
to recompense him for his work, Baruch refused any kind 
of payment, saying he wanted to help as a favor, and any- 
way he didn't need any reward. When he would need any- 



thing for his physical well-being he could always go out and 
work, but at the moment he was short of nothing. 

Ezra shrugged his shoulders. He had never met anyone 
like Baruch before. In great admiration he spoke about him 
to Eliezer Zundel, the warden of the Beth-Hamidrash. The 
other regular worshippers at the Beth-Hamidrash also heard 
about Baruch and became interested in the young lad who 
studied so keenly in the Beth-Hamidrash. "Who is he? Where 
does he come from?" asked Eliezer Zundel the warden. The 
beadle shrugged his shoulders; he really didn't know, "I just 
couldn't get the information out of him," said Ezra. "It 
seems he doesn't want to tell." The warden himself tried 
to elicit information from Baruch in a friendly chat. He also 
offered to look after him. Baruch, however, showed no wish 
to talk of his family and relatives; where he had come from 
and why he had chosen to come to Lyozshna. He declined 
the warden's help. The warden saw that he wasn't getting 
anywhere with Baruch who seemed very stubborn. He de- 
cided that Baruch must be a bit queer, and going to the 
beadle, said: "I can do nothing with him. You try again. 
We must find out something about him. We can't just let 
him go hungry." So Ezra, encouraged, again tried to press 
Baruch for some personal information. The beadle also de- 
clined any longer to accept Baruch's refusals of his invita- 
tions, and insisted that he come home with him to eat. 

"It is not right for anyone to endure such a mode of 
living," Ezra urged Baruch, but the latter remained adamant. 

When Baruch saw that he would not be able to get out 
of Ezra's clutches, he left the large Beth-Hamidrash and 
went to the smaller one on the outskirts of the town. There 
no one bothered him. He could carry on as he wished. Baruch 
saw, though, that the little money he had brought with him 
to Lyozshna and which had been keeping his body and soul 
together, was dwindling slowly but surely. Soon he would 
not have enough even to buy bread. So he started to be very 
careful and sparing even with his ration of dry bread. He 
began to look out for new possibilities of earning something. 
He went into the town to find some work. He thought of be- 



coming a porter, but saw that Lyozshna had more than 
enough porters already, and they were all married men. "I 
wouldn't take their living away from them/' Baruch said 
to himself, and looked for something else. He wanted to be- 
come a water-carrier, but discovered that the majority of 
people in Lyozshna were too poor to afford the luxury of 
engaging a water-carrier; they all went to the wells and 
river and carried the water to their homes themselves. As 
for the small minority of wealthier inhabitants, they already 
had their regular water-carriers, so Baruch would not care to 
take away their custom, heavens forbid! That, in his view, 
would have been unjust. 

Baruch would have become a wood-cutter, but here again 
there were poor people enough ready to hire themselves out 
as choppers of wood, or to do similar heavy work. 

Baruch was determined not to compete with any of these 
people who needed all they could earn to feed themselves and 
their dependents. He began to feel really low-spirited and 
his heart was heavily troubled; troubled for all the poor 
souls he saw struggling for a bare existence. He began to 
reproach himself for not having been more careful to make 
his money stretch out for a longer period, and made up his 
mind that with the remaining amount of money, small though 
it was, he would indeed be very careful, and eat even less 
than before. He almost reached hunger level but did not 
slacken in his studies. If anything, he studied more inten- 
sively than before. 

The worshippers in the small Beth-Hamidrash were all 
absolute paupers. They all had their own worries and took 
little notice of the young student. No one troubled to wonder 
how he lived. His pale pinched face made it obvious that Ba- 
ruch was suffering hunger. But to the people who comprised 
the congregation of this small Beth-Hamidrash it was noth- 
ing new; they were accustomed to seeing such half -starved 

This Beth-Hamidrash was too poor to employ a beadle, 
but there was an old man who volunteered to carry out the 
duties of a beadle in an honorary capacity, and occasionally 



a worshipper would slip a coin into his hand and so he man- 
aged to live. 

This old man saw with what zeal Baruch studied in the 
Beth-Hamidrash, and he also could not help seeing that he 
hadn't enough to eat. It troubled him that he could give 
Baruch no help, not knowing that it would have been re- 
fused, even if offered. 

In general he had little to do with Baruch. He felt him- 
self to be an ignorant old man and how would he dare to 
approach this brilliant young student? 

So the winter passed and spring came. As Baruch lived 
on the outskirts of the town, he felt very near to G-d's cre- 
ation which he loved so dearly. He now began taking long 
walks in the country. The sun shone, the sky was blue, and 
the earth was covered with a green mantle. The trees began 
to bloom, and the woods and fields filled the air with fragrance. 

The birds sang and the bees hummed. It was just the 
time when Baruch loved to stretch out on the meadow-grass 
under a tree, and dream his dreams. In the fresh air and in 
the greater concentration of his studies he would forget his 
worries and his hunger. 

With the coming of Shovuoth, Baruch saw his last few 
coins disappearing. For this holy Yom-Tov he had to have 
"Challes" (white loaves) at least for Kiddush. This holy 
Yom-Tov, "the time of the giving of our Torah," could not 
be slighted. What then must he do? He decided to fast on 
the few days preceding Yom-Tov so that he would manage to 
buy his indispensable Ghalles for the festival. But what was 
to happen after Yom-Tov? He had absolutely reached the 
end of his resources and was very worried indeed. He blamed 
himself severely. Why could he not have a deeper trust in 
G-d? Baruch was at that time studying many books on 
Mussar (Ethics) and he appreciated how great a virtue was 
faith. But could this virtue be practised at a time when one 
felt so helpless and without a cent to call one's own? Baruch 
felt he must elevate himself to such a high level, that even 
in his desperate plight he could yet feel that he need not lose 
faith in the Almighty for one moment. Not for him to ques- 



tion the "why" and the "wherefore." He had but to rely upon 
the Almighty who sustained all His creatures and would 
surely also sustain him. 

Besides, this festive season was hardly the time for 
depression. Shovouth was near and Nature was emerging 
in all her loveliness! One had but to go out into the coun- 
try, leaving behind the town and its poverty, its trials and 
tribulations, and give oneself up completely to G-d's wonder- 
ful creation. What beauty one now beheld! And how one's 
heart rejoiced! Who ever heard of worry? Here was a world 
where all creation was singing a song of praise to the Cre- 
ator I 

At such times Baruqh felt himself to be part of this cre- 
ation and in close communion with the Divine One Himself. 

At such times too, it was impossible to think of such 
mundane things as one's body and its physical needs. 

The soul entirely superseded the body! 


Shovouth went by, leaving Baruch without a cent. Then 
began for him an unbroken series of "fasts." Now he did not 
fast for the sake of saving food, but simply because he had 
no food to eat. But how long can one fast? He tried to spend 
his days in the fields under the open sky, engrossed in deep 
thought. He also tried to go over by heart, all he had learned. 
His hunger, however, gnawed at his stomach. His strength 
gradually weakened and his senses began to feel dulled. 

Baruch could only refresh himself with cold water from 
a nearby river. But after two days had passed without a 
morsel of food entering his lips, even the cold water failed 
to refresh him. Driven by hunger, he went in search of grasses 
that were edible, and found some sorrel. He swallowed several 
handfulls of the sorrel and then drank some water after it, 
but such a diet after his long unbroken fast, could only cause 
him stomach-ache. 

The pain lasted for hours and when it finally passed, 
he again felt the pangs of hunger. Baruch could no longer 



find any peace in the fields and decided to return to the town. 
He thought of knocking at the first house he came to, to ask 
for a piece of bread. Surely no one would refuse such a re- 
quest. Then perhaps he would recover his strength. Here 
indeed was a test. For over three years he had kept himself 
by his own efforts. Should he suddenly change his ways now ? 
He couldn't make up his mind to do it. He was in truth in 
danger of his life, but he felt that even in these circumstances 
he must not lose his faith in G-d and not turn for help to 
mere flesh and blood. 

Hungry and weak, Baruch walked into town with drag- 
ging footsteps. He followed a new path, passing houses and 
gardens he had never seen before. They happened to be houses 
belonging to Jews who earned their livelihood by gardening 
and doing such jobs as did not entail their having to live in 
the narrow streets of the town. 

Baruch passed a vegetable garden and through the fence 
he saw a Jew weeding and watering the plants. Noticing Ba- 
ruch, he asked him if he would like to help him. 'Til pay you 
for it," he added. "There's far too much for me to do on my 

Baruch was delighted. It was the first time that anyone 
in Lyozshna had offered him work. This was in fact what 
he had been looking for all the time. He jumped at the offer. 

Baruch learned that the garden was owned jointly by this 
gardener, whose name was Abraham, and his partner Azriel. 
Abraham was anxious that the lad should be satisfied. He 
gave him bread and greens and a drink, and Baruch felt his 
strength returning to him. Baruch was to board and lodge 
with his employer. It was just the time of the year when the 
greens were ripe for gathering and taking into town for sell- 

For three weeks Baruch had a home with food, and in 
addition, some extra money for his work. Baruch's conscien- 
tious devotion to his work pleased the gardener greatly. 
When the work in the garden came to an end, he still did not 
want to part with Baruch, In addition to his vegetable gar- 
den, the gardener owned an orchard which, together with a 



partner, lie had rented from a neighboring landowner. The 
fruit in the orchard was beginning to ripen, and It was now 
time to keep watch to see that no thieves or birds helped them- 
selves to the fruit on the trees. Later it would also be nec- 
essary to engage people to pick the fruit and pack it in wag- 
gons for taking into town. 

It was a job of several week's duration. Baruch agreed 
to stay on, on condition that he should be allowed to go into 
town to "dawen" with a "Minyan" every morning and evening. 
To this, the old gardener agreed. The time of hunger was 
over for Baruch and he felt that his great trust in G-d had 
not been in vain. 

A new life commenced for Baruch. He became a "Watch- 
man " and stayed in a small hut which was in the middle of 
the orchard. Baruch was now right in the bosom of Nature, 
which all his life he loved so dearly. Roving through the 
orchard by day and by night, he could indulge in dreaming 
his dreams. He could admire G~d's creation and spend most 
of his time in the study of the Torah and the worship of G-d. 

One thing troubled him, however. He had no holy books 
for his studies. He was not allowed to bring them from town 
as they were not loaned out from the Beth-Hamidrash. There 
was no one he knew from whom he could borrow such books 
even if he would have cared to attract attention to his stu- 
diousness, which he certainly did not wish for. And so, dur- 
ing the first few days that he acted as watchman, he had to 
satisfy himself with merely revising by heart, all he had pre- 
viously learned. He would have liked to learn something more, 
something new, but for this he needed books. Then he remem- 
bered the old man in the Beth-Hamidrash on the outskirts of 
Lyozshna, where he had stayed a long time. Baruch decided he 
would go and have a talk with him and ask for permission to 
borrow some books from the Beth-Hamidrash. The old man 
readily agreed and allowed him to borrow whatever he chose. 

Now Baruch was completely happy. He could sit in the 
orchard and study to his heart's content. Twice daily he went 
into town to "dawen" with a "Minyan." On the way to and 
from town, he used to revise all he had learned in the orchard. 



He hadn't much work to do In the orchard. All he had to do 
was to walk about and keep watch that no cattle should 
stray in; that no birds should spoil the fruit, and that none 
of the neighborhood peasants should steal any of the fruit. 
Thus Baruch had enough time for study and for concentrated 
thought on lofty ideas. 

Whilst Baruch was in the orchard he was careful about 
every "Mitzvah." Every Shabbos he made an "Eruv T'chu- 
min" so that on Shabbos he could also go to town and return. 
But on the first Shabbos on his return from the Beth-Hamid- 
rash in the morning, he suddenly reminded himself that he 
had made no arrangements with his employer about being 
released from his obligations of protecting the orchard 
against the birds, on Shabbos. He also remembered that he 
had not arranged with his employer not to receive payment 
for the Sabbath day. He pondered the matter and decided 
that he must ask his employer to engage a non-Jew to act 
as "Watchman" on Shabbos and deduct the day's pay from 
his (Baruch's) wages. 

The fact that he had not had the forethought to see to 
these matters before Shabbos, upset Baruch very much. Did 
it not show that he was not careful enough with regard to 
his religious duties? Did it not prove that in spite of all his 
sufferings and sacrifices he was still a long way from his 
goal? He took himself severely to task. How could he have 
overlooked such definite "dinim" ? How could he have been so 
thoughtless ? That Shabbos was certainly spoilt for him. He 
paced up and down the orchard trying to see how he could 
rectify his failing. 

Baruch finally decided upon a self-imposed punishment 
as a form of repentance. First, he decided that he must leave 
the orchard, at the risk of again experiencing hunger. At the 
same time he would spend all his time praying to G-d for 
forgiveness for his faults, promising to avoid them in the 
future. He had even decided how he would arrange his term 
of repentance which was to last for three weeks. He would 
abstain from food for three consecutive days, then he would 
fast regularly twice a week. During the fasts he would study 



Talmud right through the night and only sleep for two or 
three hours during the day. During these three weeks he had 
also set himself the task of learning by heart the whole of 
the tractate Shabbos. 

Having decided upon his penance, he felt much lighter 
hearted. Immediately on the morrow he went to his employer 
and told him that something had happened which necessitated 
his giving up his job for a certain period of time, and during 
this time, his employer would have to employ another 
watchman in his place. The old gardener begged him to stay 
another day and promised to go into the matter on the fol- 
lowing day. He told Baruch it would be terribly difficult for 
him to find a suitable person upon whom he could rely, and 
it might even take a few days before he could get anyone 
to replace him. Baruch returned to the orchard, at the same 
time preparing himself for his penance. 

On the morrow, when Abraham came into the orchard, 
he heard a heart-rending cry coming from the watchman's 
hut as if someone were engaged in devout prayer. But surely 
such prayer could only come from a holy man! Who could 
be in the hut? 

He could not imagine it could possibly be his watchman 
Baruch. Soon, however, Abraham had no more doubt as to 
the identity of the worshipper. It was none other than Ba- 
ruch. Abraham stood still and listened to Baruch's prayers 
for some time. He was spellbound. 

After Baruch had prayed at great length, he continued 
with some Psalms which he recited with much feeling. After 
this, Baruch started studying Gemorro in a sweet voice and 
with fiery enthusiasm. 

Abraham could see at once that this was no ordinary 
watchman. He did not now approach the hut, in order not to 
betray his presence. He did not want to let Baruch know that 
he knew of his secret, and so he returned home. 


The following day, before Baruch went to the Synagogue 
in town, he went up to Abraham and asked him why he 


had not kept his promise to come up to the orchard and dis- 
Ciiss the matter of engaging a new watchman in his place, 
Abraham did not want to let him know the truth and so 
made the excuse that for certain reasons he was unable to 
keep the appointment. "But in any case/* asked Abraham, 
"why the hurry? Can't it wait for one more day?" Abraham 
promised that he would certainly see to his request. 

Abraham, who was himself a learned and righteous man, 
was puzzled by his watchman and wondered what could have 
made him decide so suddenly to leave Ms position. 

Abraham belonged to that fine class of Jews who had 
for long appreciated the importance for Jews to become 
artisans, in order to assure themselves of a sound economic 
existence. In his early years Abraham was famed for MS 
great scholarship. He became the son-in-law of a very fine 
and respected Jew and stayed at his house with free board 
and lodgings for a number of years. 

After this, Abraham's father-in-law wanted him to be- 
come a Rav, and Abraham was fully qualified and eminently 
suitable for such a position even in the most exacting congre- 
gation. But Abraham on no account wished to become a 
rabbi. He had decided that he would earn his living by the 
toil of his own hands, and so he took up gardening. He planted 
all sorts of plants and sold them in Lyozshna. Later, he 
took a partner, Azriel, and they engaged not only in gar- 
dening but also in renting orchards. In his spare time Abra- 
ham studied the Torah, and the whole town of Lyozshrta 
knW that Abraham did not wish to use the Torah "as a 
Spade with which to dig/' It was natural, therefore, that 
Abraham would readily understand and appreciate Such a 
youth as Baruch. It was now clear to him that Barttch was 
not only one of those who believed that "by the sweat of thy 
brow shalt thou eat bread/' but was, in addition, a Mystic. 

It still puzzled him, though, to find a reason for Baruch's 
wishing to leave the orchard where, after all, he could with- 
out interference go his way and remain disguised. 

Abraham made tip his mind to get to the bottom of thfc 
matter, and if possible to try and retain Baruch. Thus the 



first question which Abraham put to Barueh when he came to 
see him at the orchard was: "Why do you want to leave 
the orchard?" Baruch was reluctant to give the true reason. 
Abraham persisted, however, and Baruch had no alternative 
but to tell him the truth, namely, that in the carrying out 
of his duties he had, in his opinion, desecrated the Sabbath, 
He had, therefore, taken upon himself a penance and de-< 
cided that instead of pursuing the job of watchman in the 
orchard which was comparatively easy, he should henceforth 
take up heavy manual work and give himself no rest. 

Abraham was tempted to enter into a deep Torah dis* 
cussion with Baruch, but it would have meant revealing to 
him that he had discovered his secret that he was a scholar. 
So Abraham decided not to show that he recognized Baruch's 
greatness, but continued speaking to him in the same simple 
terms that Baruch used. Abraham quoted the saying: "Do 
not be over-saintly" to show that one should not overdo 
things to extremes. He also quoted the saying of our sages; 
"An ignorant man cannot be pious." Therefore, however fine 
his intentions were, not to infringe upon the sanctity of the 
Sabbath, he should not indulge in saintliness, because this 
virtue should be left to great scholars and lofty spirits. Thus 
Abraham tried to convince Baruch to change his mind, and 
in this way he placed Baruch in a dilemma. If he were not to 
appear to Abraham as though he had an exalted opinion of 
himself, and that he considered himself to be one of those 
great scholars and lofty souls,- he had no option but to agree 
that Abraham was right. Especially so as Abraham pressed 
Baruch to remain in his employ as watchman, stating that 
he would engage a non-Jew to take over his duties in the 
orchard on the Sabbath day. 

Baruch now had no excuse for leaving his post and so 
continued to act as watchman over the orchard. 

As this did not entirely satisfy his conscience, he decided 
to make it good by greater Torah-stu4y and more ardent 
devotion to prayer. 

Six weeks passed. Baruch spent his days and nights study- 
ing intensively, and, knowing himself to be alone in the or- 



chard, he gave free play to his sweet voice, singing unre- 
strainedly and filling the orchard with his tuneful melodies. 

He was unaware of the fact that Abraham used often to 
come into the orchard unobserved and, keeping himself hid- 
den, he would listen for hours to Barach's enthusiastic way of 
studying. Then he would stealthily move away. Abraham 
saw that Baruch was no ordinary student but could indeed be 
classed amongst the greatest scholars. 

The period of waiting for the fruit to ripen had passed, 
and the time for picking the fruit off the trees had now come. 

Baruch could now no longer enjoy the same peaceful 
atmosphere in the orchard as hitherto. He was no more alone. 
Both partners, Abraham and Azriel, with their wives and 
families, and even some outsiders, had come along to the 
orchard. All were eager to start on the job. Ladders were 
set up against the trees and the fruit was placed in baskets, 
which were loaded on to waggons for taking into town. The 
orchard became noisy and clamorous. Baruch was now as 
busy as everybody, picking and packing the fruit. He pre- 
sented a fine picture, with his attractive personality and well- 
developed figure. He was broad-shouldered with strong mus- 
cles, tall, and with an exceedingly handsome face. 

His eyes in particular made a deep impression. They 
were deep and clear, indicating depth and strength of char- 
acter, determination and fearlessness. One could always dis- 
cern in his eyes and face a thoughtful seriousness. Baruch 
was gifted with a pleasant and lucid power of speech. He 
spoke beautifully and with a pleasant ringing voice. He also 
spoke a very good and fluent Polish, which came as a pleasant 
surprise to the several non-Jews working in the orchard, as 
well as to his Jewish co-workers. 

The picking of the fruit took about two to three weeks, 
during which time there came to the orchard a number of 
distinguished visitors. These were the squire-owner of the 
orchard and his family, including his son, his daughter, and 
his wife. They came to offer their good wishes to the two 
Jewish partners who had rented the orchard from them, 
paying a good price for it. The squire showed his big-heart- 



edness by ordering a basket of fruit to be packed for him, 
and for which he insisted on paying, despite the request of 
the partners that he accept it as a gift. It was on the occa- 
sion of this visit that the attention of these distinguished 
guests was drawn to Baruch. The squire could not refrain 
from admiring Baruch' s beautiful physique, his unusually 
impressive face, and his penetrating, intelligent eyes. When 
he learned that Baruch could speak a fine and fluent Polish, 
he could absolutely find no end to his admiration of him. 

He was greatly interested in him and wanted to know 
all the details of his life, especially when he heard that Ba- 
ruch had all the time been watchman at the orchard. The 
squire introduced Baruch to his children, intimating, that 
he was a most remarkable young man. Baruch soon noticed 
that all of the squire's family were interested in him. He 
noticed particularly, and this sent the blood rushing to his 
cheeks, that the squire's daughter, who was still a young 
lady, did not take her eyes off him. "And do you actually 
spend the nights all alone in the orchard?" she asked Ba- 
ruch. Baruch answered with a nod of his head, obviously 
not wishing to become involved in conversation with the 
squire's daughter. He replied readily, however, to the ques- 
tions put to him by the squire and his son. This the young 
lady put down to his shyness and to his being unaccustomed 
to speaking to young ladies, and so she did not trouble him 
with any more questions, leaving the conversation to her 
father and brother. 

The next day the squire and his family again came to 
the orchard, and this time they all showed unmistakably that 
their main interest was centered in Baruch. Baruch was 
greatly astonished, no less than the two partners Abraham 
and Azriel. 

"You will certainly have to come up and visit us," the 
squire said to Baruch. "In my castle, we shall have a better 
opportunity for chatting." The young squire nodded his 
head approvingly. He was also interested in Baruch. His 
sister stood by smiling, but saying nothing. 



Baruch made no reply to the invitation of the squire. 
The only acknowledgment he gave was a vague nod of 
his head, but he remained silent. The squire and his family 
took their leave, and Baruch went on with his work, trying 
to forget all that had just happened. 

During the day Baruch was busy with the others who 
were engaged in picking the fruit off the trees. In the eve- 
ning when everybody returned to town, Baruch remained 
alone in the orchard. As always, he devoted this time to 
Torah study and worship of G-d. 


One evening when Baruch was alone in the orchard, 
someone suddenly appeared in the doorway of his hut. 
Baruch turned to see who it was, and to his great astonish- 
ment he saw it was none other than the young squire. 

The young squire greeted him with a hearty "good 
evening," and said that his father had sent him to invite 
Baruch to their castle. "We all feel that you are lonely in 
the orchard," said he. "We should like you to come and 
spend the evening with us." 

Baruch hesitated. He tried to find some excuse for de- 
clining the invitation, feeling that it could lead to no good. 

"I am alone in the orchard," Baruch excused himself, 
"it is therefore not possible for me to go away and leave 
it unwatched." 

The young squire departed. Baruch hoped that the 
matter would end there, but before long, there he was back 
again, accompanied by two footmen with several huge dogs 
at their heels. 

"See, my friend, they will guard the orchard for you 
in your absence, whilst you are spending the time with us," 
the young squire said. 

Baruch was greatly embarrassed. The friendship of the 
squire and his family was most unwelcome to him, and he 
would gladly have refused their invitation as far as he 
himself was concerned. But, knowing the cruel whims of 



these squires, and that his refusal might hurt others, in par- 
ticular his employers, and maybe other fellow Jews around 
Lyozshna, Baruch decided to go with the young squire. 
Here was a case where he could not study his own feelings 
in the matter. The interest of his fellow-Jews stood higher 
than all else. 

He was determined, however, that he would show the 
squire firmness, and by not a single word show any weak- 
ness or subservience. It was up to him to uphold Jewish 
honor, and speak and act only in the spirit of the Torah. 

Baruch was received at the castle with great friend- 
ship and interest. This did not please him at all. Baruch 
took the first opportunity of showing self-assurance, when 
he entered the castle, in not unbaring his head. He ex- 
plained the reason for this, in a pure Polish. He referred 
to the quotation: "Every breathing soul should praise the 
Lord," about which our sages say, that with every breath 
of the soul one should praise the Creator. Meaning, that 
one should always feel oneself in the presence of the Al- 
mighty. Therefore, how could a Jew remain even for one 
moment with uncovered head? 

Baruch's boldness and consistency, and the clear and 
beautiful manner in which he explained the whole matter, 
made a deep impression upon the squire and his family. It 
was perhaps the first time that they had heard such proud 
and decisive speech from a Jew. The idea was strange both 
to the squire as well as to his family, that a Jew could be 
anything other than subservient and trembling, always 
ready to kiss the hands of the cruel squires. Whence did 
such courage and pride come to this ordinary Jewish youth, 
a mere watchman? And where did he acquire such wisdom 
and knowledge? The squire reached such a high degree of 
respect for Baruch, that he not only acknowledged that 
Baruch was right in keeping his head covered, but ordered 
his own hat to be brought, and he too covered his head. 

Baruch entered into a lengthy explanation as to why he 
was determined to adhere strictly to every Jewish custom. 
At the same time he made it clear to the squire how unfair 



it would be for anyone to use his power to interfere with 
another's way of life and belief. 

The squire and his family sat listening to Baruch 
spellbound. They heard, and could not cease wondering, as 
he quoted saying after saying of the Sages which he trans- 
lated into Polish and explained so simply and beautifully. 
The conversation was indeed of a lofty nature. Baruch for the 
first time showed his great wisdom and knowledge. He con- 
trasted to them the two separate worlds; the world of ma- 
terialism which, is the non-Jewish world, and the spiritu- 
al world, which is the Jewish world. 

The squire positively swallowed each word as it came 
from Baruch's lips, and Baruch began to feel more at ease. 
He felt that the tone that he had struck would save him from 
a possible scheme that the squire bad in mind when he in- 
vited him to his castle. 

The squire's children, however, were apparently not 
at all pleased with the turn the conversation had taken. 
They would have preferred it to have been on lighter sub- 

"These matters should really be discussed in the pres- 
ence of a priest," they said, and both the son and the daugh- 
ter together added: "Father is very interested in all these 
things, but we will come to see you in the orchard to- 
morrow evening, when we can amuse ourselves in a very 
different way/' 

Baruch blushed. He foresaw the danger that a pro- 
longed friendship with the squire's children would entail, 
and to which he was greatly averse. He wanted to put an 
end to this friendship in which he had no interest what- 
soever. His mind was already busy trying to think how he 
could avoid this meeting. 

The squire expressed his regret that he had not known 
of Baruch right through the summer when he was at the 
orchard. He could have befriended him. Now it was al- 
ready the end of the summer. Baruch, on the other hand, 
was delighted that they had made each other's acquaintance 
at the end of the summer, for he would be leaving the or- 



chard in a few days' time. Baruch was now invited to the 
dining-room, where the table was set with all sorts of delica- 
cies, all of a kind that a Jew might be permitted to eat at 
the table of a non-Jew. Baruch, nevertheless, had decided 
that he would not partake of anything, and would simply 
show them that he had the will and determination not to 
be put to any test. 

He was just getting ready to make an excuse and ex- 
planation for his not eating with them, when the air was 
rent with a terrible scream of a young child. It was the 
squire's youngest child who had just scalded itself with a 
pan of boiling water. 

Everyone in the house ran around seeing how best to 
help in the emergency. Baruch, feeling that he might be in 
the way, or at any rate, feeling that no one was likely to 
want to be bothered with him under the circumstances, 
took the opportunity of slipping quietly away to the or- 
chard. There he found the two footmen and the dogs, who 
now returned to the castle. 

That night Baruch could not sleep. He had plenty 
to think about; his mind could not rest. What was to hap- 
pen in the evening when the squire's children would be 
calling on him in the orchard? He started reciting some 
Psalms, and his voice reverberated throughout the orchard. 


Next day, the two partners, Abraham and Azriel, to- 
gether with all the others, came to the orchard to con- 
tinue with the work of picking the fruit from the trees. 
As usual, Baruch gave a willing hand with the work. 
News was brought from the castle that the young child of 
the squire, who had scalded herself the previous evening, 
had died. Baruch felt a pain in his heart, as if it had some- 
how been a matter connected with himself. He did not, how- 
ever, say a word of what he knew of the incident. 

The day passed and Baruch began to experience a feel- 
ing of unrest. He felt that the squire's children would feel 



they had to keep their appointment with him, despite the 
tragic death of the child. 

What could he discuss with them? How would he con- 
duct himself with them? The old squire was at least a 
serious person, and he had made an impression upon him, 
His children, however, were of different clay. No good could 
possibly come of their visit. 

Just before nightfall, Baruch, as usual, went into town 
for evening service. He had decided to have an earnest talk 
with Abraham. He told him of all that had taken place, 

"I have come to the conclusion that I dare not sleep in 
the orchard any more/' said Baruch. "You will have to find 
someone to take my place." 

Abraham listened and agreed to Banich's suggestion, 
although he did not feel at all sure that the squire's chil- 
dren would really come as they had promised. 

That night Baruch did not return to the orchard, Abra- 
ham and Azriel went instead to watch the orchard. Abraham 
did not tell his partner what Baruch had told him. He only 
told him that Baruch did not feel well enough to watch the 
orchard that night. 

Abraham had to admit that Baruch's fears were justi- 
fied, for sure enough the squire's children turned up, but on 
seeing that Baruch was not there, they went home disap- 

On the following day Baruch came to work at the or- 
chard the same as his co-workers, but again he returned 
with them to town for the night. He wasn't going to sleep 
at the orchard any more. In any case, it was now a matter 
only of a few more days and the work at the orchard should 
be completed. It was already the latter part of the month 
of Elul. 

When the work in the orchard was finished, Baruch was 
paid by the two partners and he again settled down to study 
in the Beth-Hamidrash. He had saved enough, money to 
support himself for some time. He needed so little to keep 
himself. He generally fasted on Mondays and Thursdays, 
and ate very little on the other days of the week. Only for 



Shabbos did he permit himself a little of something extra. 
The main thing was to sit and study, now that he was pro- 
vided with his immediate needs. Baruch studied not only 
Talmud and Responsa, but also books on ethics. 

The "Solemn Days" had passed. Winter began to draw 
near with its long nights. Baruch now had months of un- 
broken days and nights for study. And he did indeed de- 
vote himself completely to Torah-study with all the ardor 
of his soul. As he sat in the Beth-Hamidrash during the long 
nights, practically alone, he could still pretend to be quite 
an ordinary youth who was in no way exceptional other 
than in his having made the Beth-Hamidrash his home. 
There was no one to take any particular notice of him, and 
this was just what he wanted. 

On one of these nights there came to the Beth-Hamid- 
rash one of his former employers. It was Abraham. Baruch 
was so engrossed in his studies that he did not notice the 
visitot until the latter spoke to him. 

They talked for awhile and then Abraham said: "I 
always had my eye on you. Until now I did not want you to 
know that I had discovered your secret, that you are not 
the ordinary youth that you pretend to be. More than once 
I hid in the orchard and listened to you as you sang out 
in your studies. I have not disclosed your secret to anyone. 
The time has come, however, for me to tell you that I know 
who you are. I have therefore come to you now to ask if 
you will arrange a fixed time when we can study together. 
I have a special request to make of you, which is that we 
study together 'Choshen MishpatS" 

For a while Baruch remained silent. He did not know 
what to reply to his former employer Abraham the gardener. 
Abraham noticed Baruch's indecision and so he sat down 
near him and began to recite a particularly difficult passage 
in the Talmud. He made new points which he had learned 
from his old teacher Rabbi Abraham Zeev of Byeshenko- 
vitch. Baruch listened to these new points which he heard 
for the first time, and was enthralled. Abraham himself 
was a very learned man and could repeat all he had learned 



from his old teacher who was famous for Ms brilliant 

Abraham was well-known for his great Talmtidical 
learning and he used to conduct a "shiur" in the "Beth-Ha 
midrash of Reb Kaddish the Orphan" in Lyozshna. Men who 
had the Talmud at their fingertips used to attend his 
"shiur." Abraham distinguished himself not only by the 
depth and sharpness of his mind, but also by his fine orderli- 
ness and clarity of thought. 

He began a discourse on the Talmudic tractate relat- 
ing to sacrifices which was new to Baruch, as he had been 
concentrating on the tractate "Nezikin" (Damages). Ba- 
ruch listened spellbound. He could see that in Abraham he 
would not only have a wonderful companion, but also reap 
the benefit of all he, Abraham, had learned from his old 
teacher Rabbi Abraham Zeev, the prodigy of Byeshenko- 

Whilst Abraham continued with his Talmudic discourse, 
his face was lit up with a radiance which reminded Baruch 
of his own father's radiant face when he, too, used to study 
Torah. This resemblance somehow drew him nearer to Abra- 
ham, and he felt he need no longer hide anything from him. 
Incidentally, Abraham promised Baruch he would keep his 
secret just as long as he desired. 

Through the whole winter the two of them studied to- 
gether during the long nights. They both derived much 
pleasure from their joint study, and as for Baruch, the win- 
ter could have lasted a lifetime as far as he was concerned, 
for he had still some of his saved-up money with which to 
support himself, and he had a companion and teacher with 
whom to study. 

The mouth of Nissan came, and with its coming all the 
Jews of Lyozshna began to make preparations for Pesach. 
The bakeries began their work of baking matzos and the 
whole town was astir with hurry and bustle. Everybody 
was busy. The teachers closed their classes, scholars 
slackened in their studies, and all set about preparing for 
the coming festival. Abraham, for the same reason, stopped 



coming to Baruch nightly as heretofore. a The holy festival 
is approaching," said Abraham to Baruch. "All the time 
I did not invite you to my house to eat at my table as I knew 
you would rather not, but Pesach is a different matter. 
Pesach has to be celebrated in a proper manner, and I want 
you so very much to spend it with me at my house. You will 
be a most welcome guest." 

For a few nights Abraham and Baruch did not see each 
other. A few days before Pesach, Abraham came into the 
Beth-Hamidrash to remind Baruch that he expected him 
for the "Sedarim" and for the whole Yom-Tov. But Baruch 
was no more in the Beth-Hamidrash; he had disappeared. 
Apparently he did not wish to accept Abraham's invitation, 
yet at the same time he did not like to refuse him, so he 
just disappeared without leaving any trace behind him. 

Abraham was terribly upset about Baruch's disappear- 
ance, but what could he do about it? He had no idea where 
to look for him. 

And what had happened to Baruch? Baruch, who had 
heard so much about the great Rabbi Abraham Zeev of 
Byeshenkovitch, suddenly felt an irresistible urge to go to 
Byeshenkovitch and become a disciple of this great scholar. 



Jewish Horaesfy. Tfte Smith's ScJiofcrrly Sons-in-law. Tr0ft 
and LaJjor. Barircft Finds himself at Home. 


The road from Lyozshna to Byeshenkovitch led through 
Dobromysl, the first townlet where Baruch had spent some 
time soon after leaving his father's house in Vitebsk. 

Baruch had some remarkable memories of Dobromysl 
and the people with whom he had become acquainted there. 
It was just before Pesach when he came to Dobromysl for the 
first time. Now again, here he was in Dobromysl for Pesach. 
And so he went to the same person with whom he had spent 
Pesach on that occasion, and who welcomed him wholehearted- 
ly as before. 

Baruch remembered very clearly his first meeting with 
him. Baruch was then but a lad of fourteen who had set- 
tled down to study in the Beth-Hamidrash, determined not 
to accept help from anybody, and as a result he suffered 
hunger. One day, a man whom he had several times noticed 
in the Beth-Hamidrash came up to him. He did not know who 
he was or what was his name. The stranger greeted him 
very warmly and said: "My name is Eliezer Reuben. I am a 
smith, and have a smithy on the outskirts of the town, on 
the road leading to Lyozshna. I live nearby and could do 
with someone to help me in my smithy. If you feel you 
would care for such a job, I would provide you with food 
and drink and a place to sleep." 



Raruch was overjoyed. This was exactly what he want- 
ed. He was prepared to do the hardest work so long as he 
could earn his own piece of bread without recourse to any 
one's help. 

Raruch however had one condition to make with Eliezer 
Reuben. "Pay me whatever you wish, but let it be in cash. 
I leave it to your own discretion. I do not want to eat at 
the tables of strangers, nor do I wish to sleep in the homes 
of strangers/ 7 said Raruch resolutely. The smith was agree- 
able. He promised Raruch a certain wage and Raruch was 
satisfied. Raruch soon arrived at the smithy and did his 
work most conscientiously. The whole day long he worked 
for the smith, and in the evening he used to go to the Reth- 
Hamidrash and study enthusiastically. Raruch now had an 
opportunity of observing Eliezer Reuben and began to feel 
a great respect for him. He saw greatness in this simple man. 
As the smith stood all day at his anvil, hammering the red- 
hot iron, he recited Psalms as an accompaniment. He recited 
psalm after psalm, and in fact knew them all by heart. 

The smith's customers were the peasants of the sur- 
rounding villages, who used to bring him their horses for 
shoeing, their waggons for repairing, and their ploughs 
and harrows when they needed putting in order. Raruch 
had long noticed with what exceptional honesty and devotion 
Eliezer Reuben treated his customers. He would never over- 
charge them even a fraction of a cent. 

Once Raruch noticed something which made a deep 
impression upon him. A peasant from a nearby village had 
brought his horse to Eliezer Reuben for shoeing, and at the 
same time to have a wheel of his waggon repaired. An- 
other peasant had brought his horse to have four new shoes 
put on, and when the time came to ask for the money, Eli- 
ezer Reuben charged this peasant the amount he should 
have charged the first one. That is to say, he overcharged 
him six groshen (smallest coin). 

Roth peasants had already gone away, when Eliezer 
Reuben realized his error. He was so upset about it that, 
despite the smallness of the overcharge, he immediately 



set off on foot to the village where this peasant lived (a dis- 
tance of about 3 miles) to refund the money to him. 

Baruch was staggered. He had never seen such meticu- 
lous righteousness on the part of an ordinary person. He 
asked the smith if he really thought it worthwhile to walk 
the six-mile distance for a matter of six groshen. To which 
Eliezer Reuben replied: "It is written of the people who 
lived before the Flood, that they were so rotten that they 
did not disdain to rob a man of less even than a *perutah' 
(a coin of very little value). Do you want me then to be 
even worse than the wicked people of that generation and 
rob a man of sice groshen?" 

Eliezer Reuben was not only particular in his attitude 
toward his fellow men, but also in his attitude toward his 
Maker. Every morning and every evening, in summer as well 
as in winter, in rain and in snow, he used to go to the Beth- 
Hamidrash. He was not satisfied merely to come and pray 
there; he also took the opportunity of learning some Torah, 
He, like so many more workers, belonged to the "Chevrah 
Tillim," the "Chevrah En Yaakov," and the "Chevrah Mid- 
rash." In addition he was a subscriber to all the charitable 
organizations of the town, and always paid his dues punc- 

Baruch not only learned to know and appreciate this 
remarkable smith, but also became acquainted with his 
neighbor who used to be a frequent visitor of Eliezer Reu- 
ben's. His name was Zebulun Benjamin and he was of im- 
mense height. His shoulders were broad and strong, and 
his hands were long and powerful. He was swarthy com- 
plexioned and his forehead was small. His voice was dull 
and so was his brain. This Zebulun Benjamin was an ig- 
norant man, and yet he was a G-d fearing individual Zebu- 
lun Benjamin at first hardly knew the alphabet, but by de- 
grees and in the course of many years, and after much ef- 
fort (for with his poor brain-power it did indeed require 
the greatest possible effort), he at long last managed to 
learn to "dawen" the week-day service and to make a bless- 
ing on the Torah. On Sabbaths and Holidays he could only 



follow the "Shliach Tzibbur" (the Reader). In comparison 
with Zebulun Benjamin, the smith Eliezer Reuben was quite 
a scholar. The smith treated this neighbor very kindly, es- 
pecially as Zebulun Benjamin obviously showed how keenly 
he deplored his own ignorance and the weakness of his 
brain power. 

When Zebulun Benjamin visited Eliezer Reuben, par- 
ticularly on Shabbos, the latter always made a point of 
telling him the stories he had heard in the Beth-Hamidrash 
whilst learning "En Yaakov" and Midrash. 

Zebulun Benjamin positively swallowed every word that 
came from the lips of the smith. Having lived all his life 
amongst non-Jews, he did not know any Yiddish. The smith 
therefore translated everything for him into Polish. As it 
happened, Eliezer Reuben knew Polish rather well, and so 
it was not difficult for him to explain these matters (which 
he himself perhaps only understood superficially) to Zebu- 
lun Bnejamin. The smith's lively talk in Polish often at- 
tracted non-Jews, who would gather -around and listen 
with great interest to the stories he told out of "En Yaakov" 
and the Midrash, scratching their heads and shouting approv- 
ingly: "Very good, Master Reuben!" ("Dobzshe, dobzshe, 
pan Rufke!"). 

The manner in which Eliezer Reuben the smith tried to 
teach Zebulun Benjamin, so far removed from spiritual 
matters, greatly impressed Baruch and became permanently 
engraved on his mind. It showed him the real depth and 
beauty of the Jewish soul. The smith, apparently quite an 
ordinary person himself and very little learned, yet went 
to no end of trouble to impart that little knowledge to one 
who knew even less. This feeling of love and responsibility 
for one another was the secret of the power that held Jews 
and Judaism together, Baruch felt. 

Baruch acquired a greater interest in the Smith's dis- 
ciple Zebulun Benjamin. What he could not find out for 
himself, he enquired of his employer. 

He found out that Zebulun Benjamin was born and 
bred in a village amongst non-Jews. His father used to do 



all manner of rough work. He used to dig ditches and also 
occasionally deal in horses. He was something of an ex- 
pert in his knowledge of cattle and horses. He also knew a 
great deal about their maladies and how to cure them. So 
much so, that peasants and even their squires, used to bring 
their sick beasts to Mm for veterinary treatment. 

Until Zebulun Benjamin attained his "Bar-Mitzvah" 
he hardly knew anything of Judaism. When his father died, 
he was not even able to say "Kaddish" for his departed 
soul. Zebulun Benjamin followed in his father's footsteps 
for earning his livelihood, having inherited some veterinary 
knowledge from him. 

When Zebulun Benjamin married, he settled on the 
outskirts of the town and became a neighbor of Eliezer 
Reuben's. The latter showed great friendliness towards him 
and awakened in him a desire to keep up Judaism. Under his 
guidance he made fair progress despite the fact that he was 
such an ignorant man. 

On Shabbos and Yom-Tov Zebulun Benjamin used to 
stand in the Beth-Hamidrash with a Tallis over his head, 
and shed bitter tears. This was already after he had en- 
gaged a teacher to teach him to read Hebrew. Before this, 
he used to have this same teacher to help him at home with 
his prayers. 

Eliezer Reuben the smith was very proud of Zebulun 
Benjamin. He felt very proud of the fact that it was due to 
him that such a remote member of the Jewish people as was 
Zebulun Benjamin, should have turned so enthusiastically 
to Judaism. In other circumstances he might have remained 
amongst non-Jews or, even being amongst Jews, he might 
yet have called upon himself their ridicule at his excessive 
ignorance, and become discouraged and dispirited. 

Eliezer Reuben, however, won him over with love, and 
fussed over him as if he were his own child, Zebulun Ben- 
jamin found in the smith both a friend and teacher, and ac- 
quired a love not only towards G-d but also towards his fel- 
low-beings. He gave a great deal of charity and showed great 
respect for those well-learned in Torah. He and his wife en- 



gaged a Scribe to write out Scrolls of the Law which they 
presented to the Beth-Hamidrash. They also took into their 
home three orphaned children whom they treated as their 
own. They engaged the best available teachers for them and 
their sons, who grew up well-learned in Torah. 

Baruch helped the smith at the smithy for some con- 
siderable length of time and felt that he had found in him 
not only his source of income but also a guide. He found 
much to admire and learn from this ordinary simple soul. 

Thus the winter passed and Pesach drew near. Eliezer 
Reuben invited Baruch to spend the Yom-Tov at his house. 

"All the time you refused to eat at my table, but you 
can't eat alone on Pesach," the smith said to him. Baruch 
however made it a condition of his acceptance that the smith 
would allow him to pay for his meals, 

"Why, that's out of the question," replied the smith, 
shocked at the idea of taking money from a poor boy for 
hospitality on Yom-Tov. Baruch explained to him that it was 
a matter of principle with him, and that it was for this very 
reason that he had voluntarily become a wanderer, so that 
he could earn his living by the toil of his own hands and not 
need to accept charity from anyone. He did not tell him 
however the other reason for his self-chosen exile, namely, 
that he did not want people to find out that he was a great 

Nevertheless, Eliezer Reuben saw that here was no or- 
dinary boy, for he quoted with ease passages from the 
Bible and from the Sages to support his arguments. The 
smith began to understand and appreciate the boy's reasons, 
and agreed to his condition. 

Baruch now had an opportunity of observing how the 
smith made preparations for the holy Yom-Tov, and also 
how he kept this holy festival. Everything made a great 
impression upon him. Baruch saw that it was possible to 
be a sincerely observant Jew even if one were not very 

Three days before Yom-Tov, Eliezer Reuben left his 



work at the smithy and set about preparing the house for 
the coming festival. 

Customers brought their waggons for repairing and 
their horses for shoeing. Eliezer Reuben could have earned 
a pretty penny, but he sent them all away explaining to them 
that it was on account of his holy festival. 

Baruch noted all this and acquired an even greater re- 
spect for his employer who, after all, barely managed to 
make ends meet. Very few people, he felt, would have been 
prepared to make a similar sacrifice of earning a legitimate 
penny, under the same circumstances. 

But Eliezer Reuben had a more important job to see 
to, which was, to see that everything in the house was tho- 
roughly and adequately "koshered" for Pesach. No time this, 
for money-making! He had to see that every chattel in the 
house, every stick of furniture, was turned out and washed 
and scrubbed, aired and dusted. 

He whitewashed the house and changed the old bricks 
in the oven for new ones. Every corner in the house received 
his attention, and the house looked so spick and span, It 
fairly gleamed with cleanliness. 

On the day before Yom-Tov, Eliezer Reuben went to the 
Baths and changed into new Yom-Tov clothes. When he came 
home Baruch accompanied him to the Beth-Hamidrash. 

They returned home and somehow felt the difference 
in the atmosphere. The house sparkled, and there was a 
real "Yom-Tov spirit" in the air. Eliezer Reuben, his wife, 
his daughters and his only son, all seemed to look different. 
The "Sabbath and Festival Soul" shone in their eyes! 

When the time came to recite the Haggadah, Eliezer 
Reuben asked Baruch if he would like to translate and ex- 
plain it to the household. Baruch was delighted to oblige. 

They all listened attentively to his lucid and interest- 
ing explanations and observations. The tears came to Eliezer 
Reuben's eyes. Were these tears of pleasure, or perhaps 
tears of sorrow at the thought that his own son was such a 
dullard and barely knew a chapter of Chumash at that time? 
It was hard to say. 



All the efforts of Eliezer Reuben to make a scholar of 
Ms son (and he engaged the best teachers possible and 
spared no expense) seemed wasted on his dull brain, and 

this grieved the father very much indeed. 

Baruch did not forget the Pesach he spent at the home 
of Eliezer Reuben, and when the next Pesach came round, 
he went to him again. He was at that time living in another 
town, but decided to return to Dobromysl for Yom-Tov, 
to spend it with his former employer, for payment of course. 
The latter, knowing already how Baruch felt in the matter, 
accepted without an argument. 

Baruch liked coming to Eliezer Reuben not only be- 
cause he felt so completely at home there, but because he 
always imbibed a spirit of true Judaism when he was with 
him. Baruch never forgot the smith's consistency, honesty, 
and piety. 

All this Baruch recalled very clearly, and it made him 
look forward with eagerness to his next meeting with his 
friend, the smith of Dobromysl. 

On arrival in Dobromysl, Baruch went straight to the 
smithy. The smith was wearing his leather apron and was 
wielding a hammer at the anvil. His son Samuel Nahum was 
holding a red hot iron in a vice over the anvil, and his father 
was striking it with his hammer with all his might. As in 
former years, he accompanied the strokes with the recitation 
of psalms. 

As soon as Eliezer Reuben saw Baruch, he threw down 
his hammer, calling out in a delighted voice: "Look, Samuel 
Nahum, what a welcome visitor we have!" The smith washed 
his hands and gave Baruch a hearty handshake. The next 
moment he was pouring out all that was on his mind. He 
spoke to Baruch as if he were his own child. 

"I must say that I am more than satisfied with my 



daughters," he told him. "They are married to fine, well- 
learned men, and are nicely settled in a house I had built 
for them. My sons-in-law spend their time in study, but as 
for my son Samuel Nahum, I have to admit he is a great 
disappointment to me. I had hoped he too would be a scholar, 
but unfortunately he has no talent whatsoever for study- 

Eliezer Reuben told Baruch how he had tried every- 
thing, even asking the Rav's advice on how to get Samuel 
Nahum to study, but the Rav advised him that under the 
circumstaces it would be better to put his son to a trade. 

"Really, I didn't want this at all," Eliezer Reuben ex- 
claimed to Baruch almost apologetically. "But what else 
could I do? And so I took Samuel Nahum to work with me 
in my smithy, rather than let him go to work for someone 
else. Whilst he is with me I can at least keep an eye on him, 
and help him to improve." 

Baruch tried to console the smith by pointing out that 
it is quite possible to be a fine, respected Jew, even if one is 
a workman, and in fact he gave Eliezer Reuben himself as a 
splendid example of the truth of his argument. But poor 
Eliezer Reuben was not so easily convinced, and it was obvi- 
ous that he felt very disappointed in his only son who 
would not make a student. 

Pesach finally arrived. On this particular Pesach the 
house of Eliezer Reuben was entirely different. The smith's 
two sons-in-law were there, and they were real scholars. They 
had studied at the Yeshivah in Vitebsk. Baruch spent hours 
discussing difficult Talmudic topics with them. 

At such times Eliezer Reuben used to sit near and listen 
to their discussions with enormous interest, though under- 
standing not a word. One could see that it gave him the 
greatest pleasure, and that he was in the seventh heaven of 
delight to have brought the Torah within the four walls of 
his humble abode. 

Baruch felt greatly at ease this time. It was no longer 



necessary for him to hide his scholarship lest he be thought 
"superior." For, sitting amongst these simple, honest, G-d- 
fearing and Torah-loving people, whose only desire was to 
serve G-d and keep His commandments in every detail, he 
felt absolutely at home. 

On the other hand, there was the smith's only son Samuel 
Nahum sitting a little way apart in silence, obviously out of 
his element and with a sad expression on his face, as if to 
say: "What wouldn't I give to be able to participate in this 
Torah discussion, or at least to understand it!" 

Baruch was quick to notice Samuel Nahum's distress, 
which aroused a wave of sympathy in him for the simple 
lad. He also could not fail to notice how Eliezer Reuben threw 
a glance at his son from time to time, shaking his head re- 
gretfuly at the fact that he was not able to join his sons-in- 
law and Baruch in their discussions. 

The smith was apparently comparing his son with his 
sons-in-law who were so learned, and perhaps even with Ba- 
ruch, who by his own efforts and despite all obstacles and 
difficulties, had attained such a high degree of learning. 

Looking at Samuel Nahum's troubled face, Baruch con- 
ceived the idea of suggesting to his father that he send his 
son to a Yeshivah and give him another chance of study- 
ing Torah. For it was obvious from the way he had listened 
to the Torah scholars that he envied them their knowledge, 
and hungered and thirsted for learning. 

So Baruch said to the smith : "It's true that I previously 
said to you that it is possible to be a good and honest Jew 
even without being a scholar. I also maintain that labor is a 
worthy thing, and as you know I, too, support myself by 
manual labor. I am not ashamed of doing any kind of honest 
work. But looking now at Samuel Nahum, I have come to 
the conclusion that he ought to be given a chance to study 
Torah, and my advice is, send him to a Yeshivah." 

When Samuel Nahum heard about Baruch's suggestion, 
he burst into tears and begged his father to allow him to go 



to study. His father agreed, and Baruch was as delighted 
as Samuel Nahum. 

Years later, Baruch heard that Samuel Nahum had be- 
come a good Torah-student and the son-in-law of a Torah 
scholar. This pleased him tremendously, for he felt that 
he had a share in Samuel Nahum's new way of life, and his 
success. He was additionaly glad for the sake of the smith 
who had so yearned for his son to learn the Torah and be- 
come a scholar like his sons-in-law. 



of ifebsk 

B@nich Vhlfs hh Home Town. Mis learned irofrfcer-fit-feiw. 
The VJrfuous fisherman 4vrenif. 


After Pesach, Baruch took his departure and set off for 
Byeshenkovich where he intended studying under the famous 
Gaon, Rabbi Abraham Zeev. On the way, he had to pass 
through Vitebsk, and he had decided to stay there a while, 
and look up his family there. His uncle and aunt lived in 
that city, and so did his sister who was now married. Her 
husband was called Joseph Isaac and had been a Yeshivah 
student at Smargon Yeshivah. He had become one of the 
deans at the Vitebsk Yeshivah. The young couple with 
their young child lived on the outskirts of the town. 

Baruch first of all looked up his uncle and aunt. They 
were overjoyed to see him. They thought he had come back 
to stay, and promised him he would be short of nothing. 
They were ready to forgive him for having left them, and 
for not having communicated with them all the years he was 
away. They had never understood what they had done to 
him to drive him away from their home and affectionate 

Baruch did not want to enter into any lengthy explana- 
tions; he was not fond of talking a lot at any time. He just 
tried to make it clear to them that he wished to support him- 
self by the work of his own hands and be independent. 



Baruch wanted to meet his brother-in-law at the Yeshi- 
vah, where he also wanted to become acquainted with the 
students. So off he went to the Yeshivah. He was interested, 
too, to see what kind of a Yeshivah was this at Vitebsk. Ba- 
ruch came in just as his brother-in-law was giving a "Shiur" 
(lesson). He observed him as he taught his class and was 
very favorably impressed with him. He was of medium 
build and height, of good appearance and with dark, intelli- 
gent eyes. His face expressed strength of character and de- 
termination. He was standing at his desk, expounding his 
lesson in a clear, resonant voice. 

The subject was a difficult one, but Joseph Isaac analyzed 
it piece by piece and explained it in a simple and lucid man- 
ner to his pupils. Baruch was greatly pleased, and when the 
class had left, he went through the chapter just taught in 
class, and saw that his brother-in-law had indeed plumbed 
all its possibilities and had simply and expertly imparted the 
knowledge contained therein, to his pupils. 

Later, Baruch listened also to the lesson given by the 
Head of the Yeshivah, the Gaon Rabbi Paltiel, and was en- 
raptured. He had never before heard so deep and thorough 
an exposition. 

Baruch had another mission which had brought him to 
Vitebsk. He wished to visit the graves of his parents. He 
also had a yearning to take the same walks as of old, outside 
the town on the banks of the River Dvina, where as a child 
he used to saunter with his father. 

After Baruch had fulfilled this mission, he went to see 
his sister. His brother-in-law came in soon after, and they 
became properly acquainted, for he had only seen him in the 
Yeshivah but not spoken to him, not wishing to interrupt 
the lesson. Joseph Isaac remembered him nevertheless. 

They all greeted each other very warmly and heartily. 
Baruch spoke for a comparatively short time with his sister 
and then entered into a lengthy discussion on Torah mat- 
ters with his brother-in-law. 

It was Erev-Shabbos and his sister begged him to stay. 
"Surely you couldn't refuse me after you have been away for 



so long!" she pleaded. His brother-in-law added his invita- 
tion, but Baruch excused himself, saying his aunt and uncle 
would undoubtedly be expecting him to stay with them, for 
after all hadn't they taken him into their home? 

Thus Baruch managed to get away from his sister's 
house. On reaching the house of his uncle and aunt, he found 
that they had prepared a separate room for him and of 
course they were expecting him to stay with them for Shab- 
bos. Here Baruch produced a different excuse. How could he 
possibly stay with them when his own sister was so anxious 
to have him? 

Actually, Baruch had already made his plans. He had no 
intention of allowing his relatives in Vitebsk to change his 
modus vivendi. He would continue to support himself by the 
toil of his own hands. Not even for one Shabbos would he 
make an exception, even at the table of his sister or uncle 
and aunt. 

Baruch found a place for himself to sleep at the Beth- 
Hamidrash, bought himself some Challes for Shabbos and 
something else to eat, as was his usual practice, and was 
happy. He had, however, decided that he would not yet pro- 
ceed to Byeshenkovitch, but would stay and study at the 
Ysehivah in Vitebsk where his brother-in-law was a dean. 

Nobody could now influence him to change or modify 
his ways, for he was firmly convinced that his was the 
right way. This, he explained to his sister and brother-in-law 
and uncle and aunt when they insisted on getting to the bot- 
tom of his various excuses. He also took the opportunity of 
telling them that the reason for his silence during his long 
absence was that he was afraid that were he to get in touch 
with them, they would try to deter him from his chosen path. 
Now, however, he was grown up and he would like his rela- 
tives to know that however well intentioned they were in try- 
ing to help him in his difficult and sometimes painful exist- 
ence, they were wasting their time and efforts. He was 
determined to carry on in his isolated way, happy in the con- 
viction that he was standing on his own two feet, and serving 



the Almighty truly as "one who hath clean hands and a pure 


Banich stayed on in Vitebsk. For although he was well 
learned and possessed of the highest virtues, he was not yet 
satisfied with himself. He was determined to learn more and 
more, and improve his character until he reached the acme 
of perfection. 

He saw a splendid opportunity to learn from his brother- 
in-law Joseph Isaac and from the Dean of the Vitebsk 
Yeshivah, Rabbi PaltieL On the other hand, Baruch knew 
that when it came to good deeds and virtues, it was not neces- 
sary to confine oneself to learning from scholars; these virtues 
were very often to be found in the uneducated worker, the 
ordinary "man-in-the-street." 

Baruch had no need to look very far for such an example. 
There was in Vitebsk itself such a man, one whom he remem- 
bered from his earliest childhood and who had made so great 
an impression upon him that he never forgot him. 

This was none other than "Avreml" the fisherman, whom 
everyone in the district called "Avreml the Lip," on account 
of the prominence of his thick, red, protruding lower lip. This 
Avreml lived but three doors away from where Baruch's 
parents used to live on the outskirts of the town, not far 
from the River Dvina. 

Avreml was a simple soul who could just about 
manage to say his prayers, and, with the greatest effort, 
understand their meaning. Nevertheless, he was a truly G-d- 
fearing Jew. Every morning and evening he attended the 
services at the Beth-Hamidrash, praying devoutly, and he in- 
variably stayed behind to listen to the "Shiur" on "En Ya- 
akov" or Midrash. Or else he would take himself to a corner 
and recite a few chapters of the Psalms with great feeling. 

AvremPs sons were quite good scholars. He had spared 
no expense to have them educated by the best teachers obtain- 
able, and later on he had sent them to study at the Yeshivah. 



Unfortunately, they died during his lifetime and left him 
their children to care for. This he did unstintingly. He gave 
them the best Jewish education possible, so that they should 
grow up to be well-versed in the Torah. 

In addition to being devoted to the Almighty, Avreml 
was very careful in his attitude towards his fellows. He was 
so charitable that his generosity would not have shamed a 
far richer man. 

Baruch remembered so well how Avreml used to call 
round on Shabbos afternoons in the summer-time, and stand 
outside their window, listening to his mother reading out of 
the "Tze'eno Ure'eno." All his mother's friends of the neigh- 
borhood used to gather together to listen to her reading with 
great interest. Avreml was the only man to come, and he 
used to stand outside the window and listen in evident en- 
joyment. His intellect was on a par with that of the women 
present, and the "Teitsh Chumash" just about suited him. 
He managed, in fact, to learn quite a good deal from these 

Whilst there might have been many men who would look 
down on Avreml for resorting to the "Women's Chumash," 
Baruch, although still a child, felt sorry for him. Indeed, he 
felt that his pity was out of place and that he should rather 
respect him for not hesitating to learn even from a woman, 
when it meant satisfying his passion for knowledge. 

Avreml used to go out to the River Dvina to catch fish 
and then bring it to the market to sell direct to the customers. 
Any fish left over, he used to bring home and sell to Ms 
poor neighbors for next to nothing. And if he knew that any 
of them could not afford to pay anything, he gave them the 
fish without any charge at all. 

Once, when Avreml brought some fish home, left over 
from his sales in the market, he asked his family to dispose 
of it for him in the usual way. To his dismay, he heard on his 
return home that some customer had, by mistake, been over- 
charged a few groshen. They all tried to remember who 
the buyers had been, what they had bought, and what they had 
been charged. They checked up on all of them but could not 



trace the customer who had teen overcharged. Then they 
remembered that one of the customers on this particular oc- 
casion was a peasant whom no one knew. Avreml decided that 
this must have been the person who had been "cheated/* But 
how was it possible to rectify the mistake when nobody knew 
who he was or where he lived? 

Avreml could not rest, it worried him so. At last he de- 
cided to seek the advice of Banich's father, and asked him 
almost tearfully: "Do please tell me what to do! I feel as 
though I have robbed someone!" 

"Give the amount of the overcharge to charity," advised 
Shneur Zalman, Baruch's father. 

"Oh I couldn't do that/' protested Avreml. "That would 
mean that I would be sharing the 'mitzvah' of giving charity 
with the peasant! On the other hand, it would be wrong to 
throw the money into the river," he agreed. 

Baruch was too young to remember the outcome of the 
story as to what Avreml did about the overcharge of the few 
groshenj but he remembered very well that his own father 
often used to refer to the high principles of Avreml, whom 
he began to call "Reb Avrohom," and whom he treated with 
the greatest respect. 

Baruch recalled how his father said to him in this con- 
nection : "You see, my son, we are told in the Gemorro 'Chulin' 
(92a) that ordinary people, referred to as the people of the 
land (Amei Ha'aretz) , are compared to the leaves of the vine. 
These leaves protect the vine, just as the ordinary people pro- 
tect the scholars. It is indeed an admirable thing for a scholar 
to possess the simplicity and good-heartedness of an unlearned 

And so Baruch already learned as a child that however 
deeply he delved into Torah study, when it came to learning 
the virtues of fine character, he had but to turn to the com- 
mon Jew and his excellent qualities. 

It was, in fact, with this aim in mind, that he originally 
left Vitebsk to wander into the world beyond. 

And now, back again in Vitebsk after so many years of 
wandering, working, studying, and striving to improve his 



character, he still felt that he must climb ever higher on the 
ladder of human perfection. 

To most people, Baruch's way of life would suggest a dual 
character. In the spiritual realm, as when he was studying 
the Torah, he concentrated so completely that he positively 
lived with the "Tanaim" and "Amoraim" and discussed and 
disputed with them as if they stood before him in the flesh! 
Yet he was just as conscientious when it came to a job of 
work. Here, in the material world, he also gave himself com- 
pletely to whatever he had to do, as if nothing else existed 
for him. That was why his various employers were always 
so delighted with him. 

Baruch presented a paradox, apparently living in two 
entirely different worlds, the world of Torah and the world 
of labor, yet how harmoniously he managed to combine the 
two into one perfect whole! 

Was there anyone who could understand and appreciate 
the depth of a soul such as Baruch's, that could combine the 
spiritual and the material so beautifully? Baruch did not seek 
recognition, but yet, there was Abraham the gardener of 
Lyozshna. Abraham had recognized Baruch's greatness and 
fineness, but Baruch had run away from him. 

Would their paths meet again? It was hard to know 
whether Baruch even thought about it during the first days 
of his return to Vitebsk. 

Having settled in Vitebsk, Baruch had little to worry 
him. He still had something of his savings to cover his small 
expenditure. The main thing for him was to be able to carry 
on with his Torah study, and the Vitebsk Yeshivah where his 
brother-in-law and the Gaon Rabbi Paltiel gave "SMurim," 
was completely satisfying. 

When, a little later, Baruch saw his savings disappearing, 
he followed his usual practice of looking for some work to 
do. This he found without difficulty, seeing that he was pre- 
pared to accept any job however heavy, as long as it was 

He came across a new building in the course of erection, 
and offered his services on an hourly basis, so that he should 



be free to devote to his studies as much time as he could 
afford. He was accepted, and he put in only as many hours 
as earned for him the cost of his modest and meager needs. 

And so the summer passed; Baruch feeling quite at home 
again in this, his birth-place. Nobody bothered him, and he 
was in any case sufficiently assured and independent now to 
follow his own path. 

Little did Baruch know that while he was living so serene- 
ly in Vitebsk, there was someone in Lyozshna worrying a great 
deal about him, and about the possible reason for his disap- 
pearance. This was of course Abraham the gardener. 



Darnell's Engagement 

Baruch Meets Former Employer. Marriage Proposal and 
Baruch's Conditions. Baruch's Self-Searching. The Cheerful 



When Baruch disappeared from Lyozshna without leaving 
any trace behind him, Abraham was very puzzled and troubled. 
Why had Baruch done this ? Could it be that he did not wish 
to eat at his table? Abraham had his eye on Baruch, and 
knowing him to be the fine and excellent young man that he 
was, hoped to get him to be his son-in-law. His daughter 
Rivkah was a very nice and gifted young lady, and Abraham 
could think of no better match for his beloved child than 
Baruch. He had already learned all there was to know about 
Baruch from his contact with him. He knew that he came 
from a distinguished family who originated from Posen, and 
that he himself had been born in Vitebsk and brought up in 
a house on the outskirts of the town, near the banks of the 
River Dvina. 

All this he found out bit by bit (for Baruch talked very 
little), which he pieced together until he got a complete 
picture of Baruch and his environment before he came to 

As for Baruch's character and his original way of living, 
this he understood and appreciated better than anyone else. 
Abraham had particularly wanted to have Baruch stay at 



his house for Pesach, so that he could become acquainted with 
his family, his daughter Rivkah included, and then he hoped 
it would be easier for him to put the proposition to Baruch 
to marry Rivkah. 

Could Baruch have guessed Abraham's intention and run 
away because of it ? Abraham hoped that was not the reason, 
and made up his mind to leave no stone unturned until he 
found Baruch again. It was just like looking for a needle In 
a haystack! Where was one to begin? 

That summer Abraham again rented some orchards, this 
time with a new partner. One of these orchards was quite 
some distance from Lyozshna. When the time came for picking 
the fruit, his partner suggested that Abraham would do well 
to take the fruit into Vitebsk, the only big town in the neigh- 
borhood, where he felt sure they could get a better price for 
their produce. 

He thought he would have to use some persuasion to get 
Abraham to agree, and was somewhat surprised when the 
latter expressed himself quite ready to go. Knowing that 
Vitebsk was Baruch's birth-place and home town, Abraham 
hoped he might be fortunate enough to get some clue as to 
Baruch's whereabouts. 

Abraham was very successful as regards the sale of the 
fruit, for he did, in fact, obtain very good prices. But losing 
no time after concluding his business, he set off in his search 
for Baruch. He started on the outskirts of the town, near the 
Dvina, and then right through the town, but despite all his 
efforts, and he asked numberless people, none seemed to know 
where Baruch was to be found. Abraham returned home dis- 

Still, Abraham refused to despair, although he visited 
Vitebsk several times during the summer without getting any 
nearer to solving the mystery of Baruch's disappearance. 

Finally Abraham decided to go up to his one-time teacher, 
Rabbi Abraham Zeev in Byeshenkovitch, and ask his advice 
as to whether he should continue with his search for Baruch, 
or look for another suitor for his daughter. Rabbi Abraham 



Zeev was more than a teacher to him. He had brought him up 
and later helped him to marry and settle down. 

Rabbi Abraham Zeev advised Abraham to wait just a 
while longer, and if he still did not find Baruch, then to give 
up the search, and find someone else for his daughter. 

Whilst he was in Byeshenkovitch, Abraham became ac- 
quainted with a student from the Vitebsk Yeshivah, and dur- 
ing their conversation he spoke enthusiastically about the 
young dean there, Rabbi Joseph Isaac. The student did not 
know that Abraham was frantically searching for Rabbi 
Joseph Isaac's brother-in-law, nor was he aware of their rela- 
tionship any more than Abraham. Abraham rather liked 
what he had been told about Rabbi Joseph Isaac, and made 
up his mind to look him up when next in Vitebsk, and become 

And that is exactly what he did when, during the winter, 
he had occasion to visit Vitebsk. Whilst still on the look-out 
for any information which might lead to Baruch's discovery, 
he thought it would be a good idea to take the opportunity 
of meeting Rabbi Joseph Isaac. He naturally did not know 
of the latter's connection with Baruch, but in the course of 
their conversation his name cropped up, and to Abraham's 
delight, he learned that he was Baruch's brother-in-law and 
better still, that Baruch lived in the same city. 

Abraham's joy was indescribable! He told Rabbi Joseph 
Isaac of his long search for Baruch and of his earnest wish and 
hope that he would become his son-in-law. Rabbi Joseph Isaac 
thought it would be better for Abraham himself to broach 
this delicate subject to Baruch, and cautioned him to be very 
careful in his approach, so as not to frighten Baruch off. 

But where was Baruch? His own relatives rarely saw 
him. All that Rabbi Joseph Isaac could tell Abraham was to 
name the Beth-Hamidrash which Baruch frequented. 

Abraham lost no time and hurried off to this Beth-Ha- 
midrash, He settled himself in a corner to study, and before 
long, sure enough, in came Baruch. He noticed the visitor, 
and to Abraham's relief and pleasure, Baruch, who had always 
been so distant and reserved, extended a hearty welcome to 



him and greeted Mm in the friendliest manner! They both 
embraced affectionately. Said Abraham: "I have searched 
for you such a long time, my dear Baruch! I was terribly 
grieved when you disappeared from Lyozshna without a word, 
leaving no trace behind you!" 

Abraham needed no assurances, however, that Baruch 
was as friendly disposed towards him, as he was towards 
Baruch. He could see it and feel it, and it did his heart good. 
He felt that he had not, after all, been wasting his time in 
what looked like a "shadow-chase/' Here was dear Baruch, 
and likely to become his dear son-in-law. 

Abraham did not want to rush matters. Rabbi Joseph 
Isaac had advised him to go carefully. Meanwhile, the latter 
took the opportunity of sounding out Baruch on the subject 
of the proposed "match," and preparing the way for Abraham 
to discuss this vital matter with him. 

Baruch proved less difficult than he feared, and in fact 
agreed without hesitation to Abraham's proposition, this to 
be conditional only upon his being allowed to live according 
to the way he had marked out for himself. 

Baruch wanted to make it quite clear to Abraham that he 
could only become his son-in-law if he, and of course his 
daughter Rivkah, accepted the following conditions : 

Baruch asked for no dowry as such, but he wanted Abra- 
ham to have a separate house built for him and Rivkah, the 
reason being that he wanted this house to be a "Guest House" 
for poor wayfarers, particularly for those Mystics who were 
at that time roaming the country in their sacred task of help- 
ing their poor, downtrodden and despairing fellow-Jews. 

Baruch had met many Mystics in the course of his wan- 
derings. As we know, Baruch mostly made his "home" in a 
Beth-Hamidrash, wherever he got to, and it was to the Beth- 
Hamidrash that the Mystics also used to make their way, for 
they had no money to pay for their lodgings. These Mystics 
fell, so to speak, between two stools, and there was no one who 
interested himself to see to their comfort or needs. They did 
not wish to ask for charity, so they did not even have as 



much as the indigent who stood at the door of the Beth-Ha- 
midrash, to rouse the sympathy of the generous-hearted. 

On the other hand, because they mostly travelled about 
like ordinary poor workers, their identity was unknown, and 
the families who were always ready to be hosts to distinguish- 
ed people, overlooked these Mystics and failed to offer them 

And so it was a very hard life that these Mystics led, 
and Baruch dreamed of the time when he might be in a posi- 
tion to ease their lot by offering them a proper bed to sleep 
in, instead of the hard bench in the Beth-Hamidrash, as well 
as a good meal, instead of the scanty bits of food they man- 
aged to take along with them on their wanderings. 

Obviously, Baruch could not put his dream into practice 
until he married, and, remembering the saying that "a woman 
(generally) looks ill upon visitors," he meant to be fore- 
warned. That is why he was so insistent upon Abraham 
accepting the conditions he put to him. Abraham was quick 
to assure Baruch that he need not worry, as, knowing his 
daughter's kind heart, he could promise him even before he 
asked her, that she would be willing and happy to agree that 
their home should be "an ever open door" to all those whom 
Baruch wished to invite, 

Now that Abraham and Baruch found themselves in 
absolute agreement with each other, Baruch expressed his 
willingness and readiness to become engaged as soon as it 
could be arranged. And with this happy news Abraham 


Before the actual engagement between Baruch and Riv- 
kah took place, Baruch's sister and aunt made a trip to 
Lyozshna to meet his prospective bride, and at the same time 
to help arrange the engagement. 

Baruch had confided in them and told them that one 6f 
the reasons he was anxious to marry Abraham's daugh- 
ter was because he was a great admirer of Abraham, par- 



ticularly because he earned his living by the toil of his hands 
as a gardener. Baruch himself had worked for Abraham 
and had learned from him the art of gardening. Now Baruch 
wanted very much to have a garden of his own to earn his 
living thereby, after he got married. 

Baruch's aunt mentioned this to Abraham. The latter 
took them to the plot of land, a few miles outside Lyozshna, 
where he proposed to have a house built for Baruch and his 
bride. There was sufficient land there also for growing gar- 
den produce. Baruch's sister and aunt were very satisfied, 
especially as Rivkah had made a very favorable impression 
on them. 

A few weeks later Abraham and his daughter Rivkah 
came to Vitebsk where the engagement took place amidst 

As had been agreed, Baruch was to remain in Vitebsk 
for yet another year of study before he settled down to 
married life. 

During this year Baruch continued along his old line 
of working a few hours each day and studying during the 
remainder of the time. 

No work was too hard or too lowly for him. Often he 
acted as a carter and this was indeed heavy going. 

Thus passed the winter, and summer gave way to autumn. 
The month of Elul came. Baruch followed the guidance of 
his brother-in-law Joseph Isaac, and was studying Mussar 
(Ethics) from Rabbi Jonah's "Shaare Teshuvah"; and other 
books such as "Reshit Chochmah," "Hillchot Teshuvah," as 
well as the Tractates "Rosh Hashanah" and "Yoma." 

These books made a tremendous impression on Baruch 
and absolutely opened up a new world for him! A new warmth 
and sentiment permeated his being where up to now Reason 
alone had reigned. 

The effect was to make him feel that his life had been 
very imperfect in the past, and that only by following the 
teachings of these books could he hope to live as perfectly as 
a true Jew should. 

He realized that his attitude towards his fellow beings 



had hitherto been calculated, even when generous, but that 
a real feeling of warm sentiment and kinship had been lacking. 

He recalled a recent incident which had occurred at the 
Beth-Hamidrash in Janovitch where he had been studying. 

Whilst he was sitting in a corner, studying earnestly, 
as always, in rushed a man and woman hurling themselves at 
the Holy Ark, and pouring out their hearts in crying and 
entreaty to the Almighty to help them in their terrible 
trouble! Their one and only child, their daughter who was 
getting ready to be married, lay seriously ill at death's door! 

Other people hurried in too, and they all prayed together 
and recited Psalms for the sick girL 

Baruch looked on in sympathy, naturally, but it had not 
occurred to him to participate in any way. He was at the 
Beth-Hamidrash for the sole purpose of studying Torah, and 
whatever might be going on around him was not his affair. 
He was there to study, and study he did. 

Baruch learned later that the couple who had first rushed 
in to the Beth-Hamidrash to pray for the life of their daugh- 
ter, had for many years been childless. At long last they 
were blessed with a precious daughter. They were well 
known, well placed, and well respected people in their town, 
and they gave their daughter a very fine upbringing as be- 
fitted a true daughter of Israel. 

She grew up to be a credit to her parents, and she was 
naturally the "apple of their eye." 

When she became of marriageable age, they were very 
anxious to find a suitable "party" for her, and to their de- 
light a most worthy young man, well learned in the Torah, 
and from a very good family, sought her hand in marriage. 

All arrangements for the wedding were in full swing, 
when to everyone's horror and grief, the prospective bride 
became ill, and grew worse and worse from day to day. 

As nearly all the people of Janovitch and around had 
been invited to the wedding, the bride's sickness had become 
a universal anxiety. 

Some days later, Baruch, from his customary corner in 
the Beth-Hamidrash, noticed that tables were being laid with 



all kinds of drinks and fancy delicacies. Soon there entered 
the couple who had prayed for their daughter's recovery sur- 
rounded by a big crowd of men and women. 

Baruch learned that this was in the form of a "Thanks- 
giving" celebration for their daughter's miraculous recovery. 
"The world and his wife," as the saying goes, seemed to 
have gathered together on that occasion. Yet Baruch felt 
a stranger there, completely out of it, for he thought the 
celebration had no possible connection with him. 

In fact, when the noise and merry-making became too 
disturbing for him, he betook himself to another room where 
he could continue with his studies, as if nothing untoward 
had intervened. 

Now, Baruch saw life and people as the books on Ethics 
had shown him to regard them. His approach became differ- 
ent, more tolerant and sympathetic, and he reproached him- 
self for his previous aloofness and coldness. 

He felt his Judaism with his heart and soul now, as well 
as with his mind, and felt himself at last to be on the right 
path towards living a truly perfect Jewish life. 


Another incident came to Baruch's mind. It occurred 
when he was in Dobromysl for the second time. It was just 
before Pesach when every Jewish inhabitant was busily oc- 
cupied with "Erev-Pesach" preparations. 

There was a certain Jew in Dobromysl by the name of 
Abraham Benjamin, a learned man who supported himself 
by cleaning and sorting wool. This was a pretty hard job 
and one could hardly hope to become a rich man through 
following this kind of work. 

But Abraham Benjamin never showed himself particu- 
larly anxious to be rich. He was quite satisfied if he could 
earn enough to provide his family with bread. And he cer- 
tainly had some sized family! There was himself and Ms 
wife and their seven children, as well as both his parents who 



were old and helpless; also his wife's aged parents. With 
so many mouths to feed, he had a difficult task making ends 

Despite his poor circumstances, Abraham Benjamin sent 
his eldest son, aged fifteen, to study at a Yeshivah, although 
he could have used him to help him with his wool combing. 
He sent his other children also to be educated, and carried 
the family burden all by himself. 

Despite his extreme poverty Abraham Benjamin gave 
charity generously, and his house was always open to anyone 
in need of a night's lodging or a meal. 

He was known in all Dobromysl for his good-heartedness, 
and everyone knew that no matter how great was the need, 
Abraham Benjamin would accept help from nobody, not even 
a loan. If things became very difficult, he used to pawn what- 
ever he could lay his hands on in the house, even their bed- 
ding. Once they had to pawn their Shabbos candlesticks and 
Abraham Benjamin's wife had to use a pair which their eldest 
son had made out of clay. They were all delighted with these 
candlesticks, as if they were something priceless. 

Everybody knew that Abraham Benjamin's first concern 
was for the two old couples beneath his roof, then came his 
wife and children and, finally, himself. 

Anyone else in his place would have been weighed down 
with worry, but not he. There was no more cheerful a person 
in Dobromysl than Abraham Benjamin! 

When anyone met him and asked him how things were 
with him and his family, he used to reply laughingly: 

"What have we to worry about? My eldest son Shlomke 
is learning Torah at the Yeshivah; David Arieh and Chaim 
Elijah are learning at Cheder, and the youngsters are learn- 
ing how to go hungry. . . ." 

He said this without any trace of bitterness whatsoever 
and would conclude by saying: 

"Why should we worry? We have a merciful G-d in 
heaven who will care for me and my family and for all our 
people. Everything will be fine." 

His house on Friday night was the jolliest in town, and 



anyone present felt a real "Oneg Shabbos." The house itself 
was sunken into the ground, up to its windows. The walls 
were supported by poles to prevent their falling down. The 
windows were nevertheless clean and the walls inside brightly 
distempered. The table was covered with a white cloth and 
three pairs of waxen candles stood proudly in the clay candle- 

The two old couples sat at the head of the table, whilst 
Abraham Benjamin, his wife and children, all sat around 
them. In the center of the table was a huge bowl of hot 
water, to serve as soup. Pieces of bread were shared out 
before each person at the table. Each ate' his or her portion 
of bread and then drank some hot water, and that was their 
meal, yet the songs they sang following it would have sug- 
gested that they had just partaken of the richest repast! 

Baruch's mind turned to that afternoon when, sitting 
alone in the Beth-Hamidrash, he was startled to see two well- 
built Jews carrying in a man whose face was so covered with 
blood as to be unrecognizable. The poor man seemed more 
dead than alive and quite unconscious of all the noise and 
activity going on around him, for people seemed to be coming 
in from all sides. The injured man proved to be Abraham 

No one knew the how and wherefore of the matter. All 
that Baruch heard was that Abraham Benjamin had been 
found in this state, under a tree, a few miles from Dobromysl 
on the road to Babinovitch. He was too badly hurt to be 
able to say what had happened, and the two men had brought 
him into the Beth-Hamidrash as it was nearer than his home. 
He was still alive when the doctor called, but he could not 
give much hope for his recovery. When the people heard 
this, they set up a terrible cry and all started to recite Psalms 
for the sick man. 

By this time his family had got to know of the tragic 
accident, and all came running to the Beth-Hamidrash, add- 
ing their cries to those of all the other congregants. 

Baruch of course joined in the prayers, but he remem- 
bered quite clearly that he felt completely apart from the 



affair, as if it had no connection with him at all And apart 
from hoping that poor Abraham Benjamin would recover for 
the sake of all his dependents, Baruch felt himself somewhat 
irked that all the people, and the noise they made, interfered 
with his studying. 

For two days Abraham Benjamin's life hung in the bal- 
ance. His family wanted to take him home, but the doctor 
said he was too dangerously ill to be moved. 

Some of the others urged the family to leave him at the 
Beth-Hamidrash as the doctor had suggested, for they 
thought his chance of recovery would be greater if he lay 
in such a holy place. 

Meanwhile Baruch walked about aimlessly in the Beth- 
Hamidrash. It was quite out of the question to be able to 
concentrate on study in all the commotion. 

When on the third day, Abraham suddenly opened his 
eyes and asked for a drink of water, it was clear that he was 
going to live. His breathing came easier and he began to 
look a bit more normal. 

The news of his miraculous turn for the better, spread 
like wild-fire through the town. The joy and relief of his 
family were indescribable, for Abraham Benjamin was able 
to sit at the table a few nights later when Pesach came. 
They celebrated the "Sedarim" as cheerfully, or rather more 
cheerfully than ever! 

Baruch remembered a little shamefully that his relief 
when Abraham Benjamin was taken home was mostly a 
selfish one, for he would then be able to study again undis- 

How differently he felt about life and people now! His 
inner soul was beginning to express itself. The books on 
Ethics which he had been studying had awakened in him this 
new feeling of kinship towards his fellow-beings, that made 
him feel that at last he was on the right path towards self- 



The of Jcmovitch 

temarlrable "Shamosh" who Impressed Borsch Coiisftf- 
/y. -Tie fef* Hamldrash in the Morke* Floce. Ine Millar 
OfAer Typical Country Folfc. Men of learning and Men 
of 4c*fo4 4 Folnfol Incident 


Baruch studied through the winter under the guidance 
of his brother-in-law. He also reserved several hours daily 
for manual labor for his keep, and he felt that his was an 
ideal, harmonious existence. 

Pesach drew near and Baruch was preparing to leave 
Vitebsk, although his relatives were very pressing in their 
invitation to him to spend Fesach with them. Baruch, how- 
ever, had other plans. As he would shortly be getting mar- 
ried, he wanted to take the opportunity of visiting some of 
his old friends, before he settled down. 

He particularly wanted to meet again one who had made 
a very deep impression upon him when, as a boy, he had lived 
in Janovitch. This was his old friend Zalman Chayim, who 
was the "Shamash" of the big Beth-Hamidrash in the Market 

When Baruch first came to Janovitch, he went to a small 
Beth-Hamidrash which was situated near a cemetery, and 
settled himself there to study. Whenever there was a funeral, 
the mourners invariably came in to this Beth-Hamidrash to 
the "Minchah" service. The grave-diggers kept their tools 



in a room in this Beth-Hamidrash. The hearse and "purifica- 
tion board" were also kept there. 

Because of this, few people cared to remain alone in the 
Beth-Hamidrash in the evenings. They weren't particularly 
anxious to stay there during the day either. For this reason 
Baruch found it an ideal place for study, for nobody dis- 
turbed him there. It must be admitted that Baruch also felt 
rather nervous at the beginning, especially as he also slept 
in the Beth-Hamidrash. Gradually though, lie got used to 
the place, and did not feel afraid any more. 

The majority of the worshippers were from the surround- 
ing neighborhood, all simple, hardworking people who 
snatched a few minutes to hurry in to the Beth-Hamidrash to 
"dawen Minchah" and dash off again to their work. A few 
people used to come in between "Minchah" and "Maariv" to 
listen to the Shiur on "Mishnayoth" or "En Yaakov." But 
after "Maariv" not a soul remained. 

The "Shamash" of this Beth-Hamidrash was also one 
of the grave-diggers. For this reason, as well as because the 
cemeteTy was so near, the grave-diggers used to foregather 
at the Beth-Hamidrash and "make merry." Whenever there 
was a funeral, these grave-diggers used to make it an op- 
portunity for having a drinking bout. On one such occasion, 
one of them, a good deal the worse for drink, lurched towards 
Baruch and threw his arms around him in a drunken embrace. 

Baruch was horrified and badly shaken. It took him 
quite a while to recover and he determined to leave this Beth- 
Hamidrash to avoid a possible repetition of such a disgusting 

This was when Baruch moved to the large Beth-Hamid- 
rash in the Market place, where Zalman Chayim was the 
"Shamash." Baruch had every opportunity of observing 
Zalman Chayim and of admiring him for his exceptionally 
fine qualities. 

It was actually through the influence of Zalman Chayim 
that this Beth-Hamidrash came into being. The money for 
the building was donated by the well-known benefactor of 
Janovitch, Ber. Ber was a cattle dealer who had the good 



fortune to make a little gold mine out of it. This in itself 
would not have brought him fame, had he not at the same 
time been a G~d fearing and extremely charitable man. 

Ber was very hospitable; his house had "en ever-open 
door/' particularly for scholars. He always used to say to 
them: "The master of the house must give money, the visitor 
must give his blessing, and the Almighty must grant both 

Ber had no children, and this grieved him greatly. One 
of his regular visitors was Zalman Chayim whom Ber re- 
spected very much indeed, and thus, when the latter urged 
him to finance the building of the Beth-Hamidrash in the 
Market place, Ber agreed. When the Beth-Hamidrash was 
ready, Zalman Chayim became "Shamash" there. Nobody 
quite knew how he came to be "Shamash," nor where he had 
come from. But it was soon obvious why he had wanted a 
Beth-Hamidrash in the middle of the Market place, and why 
he wanted to be "Shamash" there. 

It was wonderfully convenient for so many people. All 
the Jewish merchants, stall-holders and villagers, who came 
to the market, could so easily slip in to the new Beth-Hamid- 
rash to "dawen" without wasting any time. And so it was 
that the Beth-Hamidrash was full from early morn to late 
at night. 

This Beth-Hamidrash, being such a "busy" place, would 
hardly seem the most suitable for settling down to study, 
but Zalman Chayim saw to it that there should be special 
rooms reserved for those who wished to study undisturbed. 

Baruch availed himself of the privacy of one of these 
rooms and settled down to his learning, finding time also to 
observe the manifold virtues of the "Shamash" Zalman 

Baruch noted that many of the worshippers were people 
whom Zalman Chayim brought in himself. In the main, these 
were ordinary working Jews and villagers whom he welcomed 
and encouraged by having them "called up" to the Torah on 
the days when the Torah was read. This was very much 
appreciated by these simple people who were generally ig- 



nored on account of their lack of education. They felt the 
honor done them, and came the more eagerly to the Beth- 

They were particularly grateful to Zalman Chayim be 
cause he practically brought the Beth-Hamidrash to them, 
and made them feel it belonged to them. 

It was Zalman Chayim's custom to go out into the street 
and gather around him Jewish men, women, and children, and 
tell them stories from the Gemorro and Midrash. He told 
the stories simply and so beautifully that everybody, both 
young and old, understood him perfectly, and enjoyed every 

Zalman Chayim told them mostly about the great "Ta- 
naim" and "Amoraim" who also worked, like his listeners, 
as cobblers, smiths, joiners, etc. He wanted to prove to them 
that even workers can become great scholars, and great schol- 
ars are no less great if they do manual work for their living. 

During these talks, which were really long lectures, held 
in the open and given in the simple language they were used 
to, he urged the market traders to be honest in their dealings 
with everybody. He also tried to instill into them a feeling 
of brotherly love, so that they should not quarrel or have 
arguments with each other in their business transactions. 
And, of course, he dealt at great length with the importance 
of seeing that their children received the necessary Jewish 
education and be brought up as Torah-loving Jews and 

These talks of the "Shamash" Zalman Chayim made a 
tremendous impression on his listeners, and they flocked into 
the Beth-Hamidrash to listen to the Shiurim he gave there, 
as well as to davven. One of the Shiurim he gave in the Beth- 
Hamidrash was on Chumash and Rashi, which he translated 
into Yiddish and explained in simple terms so that each and 
everyone understood him. 

Zalman Chayim's concern, however, was not only for the 
spiritual needs of these people whom he had taken "under 
his wing"; he was interested in their material welfare also. 
For himself he cared little, satisfied as it were with a piece of 



dry bread. But for others he would spare no effort to see that 
they were short of nothing. 

Zalman Chayim had introduced an innovation in this new 
Beth-Hamidrash. Like all other "Shamoshim" (beadles) he 
used to make a collection amongst the worshippers on Mon- 
days and Thursdays after the Reading of the Torah. But 
unlike all other "Shamoshim," he did not take the money 
for himself, but instead got together a goodly sum and estab- 
lished a "Loan Office*' for the benefit of any poor worker or 
trader in need of financial assistance. 

He got especially busy just before "Market-days," and 
ran around looking for "customers" who were in need of 
ready cash. When, as often happened, he found he had more 
customers than cash, he betook himself to the "moneyed peo- 
ple" of Janovitch and got them to advance the money he need- 
ed, to lend to the poor folk, who had learned to look to him in 
their difficulties, and depend upon him. 

Sometimes it was a merchant wishing to buy a load of 
grain; sometimes a butcher desiring to purchase a calf, or 
a poor woman wanting to procure a fowl or a basket of eggs. 
His "Loan Office" was available for them all, as long as the 
money lasted. 

Whenever he gave them the cash, he always said to 
them: "Here's wishing you success, and you can be sure of it 
as long as you deal honestly! As for the money, don't worry 
about repaying it in a hurry. Whenever you can spare it will 
be time enough to settle the debt!" 

Everybody knew what a good soul Zalman Chayim was, 
and he was greatly loved and respected by all. 

In addition to his concern for needy traders, he used 
to take time off on market-days to have a word with the Jew- 
ish villagers and peasants who came to town. These he would 
ask very kindly and with real interest about their families 
and affairs, the education of their children, and if he could 
advise or help them in any way. 

In this way, Zalman Chayim acquired an immense in- 
fluence over these Jewish villagers and peasants, who looked 
to him as to a father. 



Thanks to Ms interest and efforts, Judaism flourished 
where before it had but struggled for existence. He even 
managed to have synagogues established in remote places 
where, before, the Jewish inhabitants could only attend a 

"Minyan" on the High Festivals for which they and their 
families came into town. 


One of the Jewish villagers with whom Zalman Chayim 
had become friendly, and over whom he had a great deal of 
influence, was Mordecai the Miller. 

This miller was a very rich; good-hearted,- though un- 
learned, Jew. Zalman Chayim had talked to Mordecai a good 
deal, and the latter had in consequence become very enthusi- 
astic to do something for Judaism and his fellow-Jews. 

Zalman Chayim prevailed upon Mordecai to finance the 
building of a Beth-Hamidrash in his village, which could be a 
House of Prayer and a spiritual center for all the settlements 
in the neighborhood. This Mordecai gladly did, and the scheme 
proved a great success and was much appreciated by all the 
Jews around. 

Mordecai the Miller had three daughters, two of them 
about to be married, through the friendly intervention of 
Zalman Chayim, to two learned young men. The first son-in- 
law, Abraham Shelomo (the son of the Rav of Dubrovno), 
soon introduced various "Shiurim" into his father-in-law's 
Beth-Hamidrash, and thus this village Beth-Hamidrash be- 
came not only a House of Prayer, but also a Torah center. 

When Abraham Shelomo later became Rav to an impor- 
tant Jewish congregation elsewhere, the task of continuing 
these "Shiurim" at the Beth-Hamidrash fell to the second 
son-in-law, Zalman Leib the son of the Rav of Borisov. 

This Zalman Leib, though a learned student of the Torah, 
was, sad to say, somewhat conceited and full of his own im- 
portance. He told his father-in-law that he preferred to keep 
to himself and did not wish to teach the villagers or have 
anything to do with them, because they were uneducated peo- 



pie. This grieved the miller very much as the villagers had 
already become used to the regular "Shiurim" at the Beth- 
Hamidrash and would be terribly upset if they would be dis- 

So Mordecai called a meeting and it was decided to ap- 
point a learned Rav over their little congregation, Mordecai 
taking upon himself to pay a third of the salary, and the 
others together to pay the remaining two-thirds. 

A delegation was sent to Janovitch and, on the recom- 
mendation of the local Rav, a certain Rabbi Ber was chosen 
to be their spiritual guide and teacher. This Rabbi Ber was 
a very learned man of about sixty years of age. He had an 
interesting history. He had been living at the home of his 
father-in-law (a citizen of Janovitch) for many years, devot- 
ing his time to Torah study. He was a very good teacher and 
managed to make quite a "Lamdan" (scholar) out of his 
father-in-law. When the latter died (and with his passing 
went his source of income) , Rabbi Ber became a "Melamed" 
(teacher of young boys). He was soon acclaimed in Jano- 
vitch as a very learned man and a very capable teacher. Thus 
he carried on for many years until he became a widower. 
Then he gave up his teaching and returned to the constant 
study of the Torah, his children being in a position to sup- 
port him. Rabbi Ber was rather fond of solitude, and was not 
a talker; he never spoke more than he needed. 

When the delegation came to the Rav of Janovitch for 
advice as to whom they should choose as Rav for their village 
Beth-Hamidrash, he could think of no more suitable a man 
than Rabbi Ber who, if anything, might be considered too 
great a scholar for these simple Jewish villagers and settlers. 
He felt though, that Rabbi Ber, for his part, would welcome 
such an appointment, as it would give him an opportunity 
to live amongst quiet country people, instead of the busier, 
noisier town, and he would be able to indulge in solitude to 
his heart's content. 

When Rabbi Ber arrived in the village just before "Seli- 
choth," Mordecai invited him to live at his house, Rabbi Ber 
having no wife to look after him. Mordecai and Ms wife 



showed Mm their usual hospitality, and he would have been 
very comfortable there had it not been for Mordecafs second 
son-in-law, Zalman Leib. The latter immediately recognized 
that Rabbi Ber was a great scholar and resented his presence 
in consequence, particularly when he saw the great respect 
shown Rabbi Ber by his father-in-law and all the villagers. 

Rabbi Ber soon earned the affection as well as respect 
of the villagers by taking the trouble of giving them "Shiu- 
rim" in a way they could grasp, and lecturing to them in a 
manner they could understand. The effect was to stir them 
all to a determination to be better and worthier Jews and 

Zalman Leib could not bear to see the ever-increasing 
popularity of Rabbi Ber, and took every opportunity of show- 
ing his dislike for him. He did not even stop at insulting him 
in public, but Rabbi Ber accepted it with toleration and did 
not attempt to retaliate. In fact he answered Zalman Leib 
gently, and, had the latter more decency in him, this in itself 
would have made him realize how mean was his own attitude. 
But no, he could not bear the thought that they had to live 
under the same roof. He would not associate with the vil- 
lagers because he considered them beneath him, and yet he 
hated Rabbi Ber because he was a greater scholar than him- 
self. He was so conceited that he wanted to be the "top man" 
everywhere and always. 

Mordecai was terribly unhappy about the bad manners 
of his son-in-law, and apologized to Rabbi Ber for his inex- 
cusable behavior, but all Rabbi Ber said was: "Don't be upset 
about it, Mordecai, after all Zalman Leib is a clever student, 
and he is yet young; his conduct will improve with the years." 

Eventually, Rabbi Ber decided it would be better if he 
left Mordecai's house, and moved to the house of an old tailor 
named Jose. This old Jose was well in the seventies, but still 
continued with his tailoring. 

Jose was famed for his honesty. He carried on his tailor- 
ing practically to the last day of his life. When Jose felt he 
was about to die, he called three of his friends to his bedside 
and handed into their care the little money he had managed 



to save during Ms lifetime. He also showed them where they 
would find the "Tachrichim" (shrouds) which he had sewn 
for himself and his wife. "The money should pay for our 
burial," he said. "I shouldn't like to think that others would 
need to have any expenditure on our account. As for a 
hearse, make it out of this table. Let it bear witness to the 
fact that I have never used 'Shatnes' for any garment, nor 
have I overcharged any customer, or failed to return any 
material left over in the making." 

Such was the man with whom Rabbi Ber had chosen to 
take up residence, and where he hoped to find some peace. 

Zalman Leib, however, still managed to find sufficient 
opportunities to continue with his persecution of the long- 
suffering Rabbi Ber, calling him an "old ignoramus/' or else 
"the preacher of the ignoramuses." 


In addition to Jose the Tailor there was another out- 
standing villager called "Shlomoh the Orphan." 

He was called "The Orphan" though he was well over a 
hundred years of age! No one knew his exact age, but Jose 
who was over seventy years old himself, said that when he 
was a boy, Shlomoh was already a man of about forty! 

Shlomoh had been nicknamed "The Orphan" because he 
lost both his parents when he was only three years old. His 
uncle, who was a butcher, took him and brought him up, and 
when he was nine years of age, he took him into his butcher 
shop. At that time there were less than a "Minyan" (ten) 
Jews in the village, and they knew very little of Judaism. As 
for Shlomoh, he had no Jewish education at all, and grew up 
to be an absolute ignoramus. He even missed the opportunity 
that other Jewish village children had. This was when they 
were taken into town with their parents to celebrate the 
"High Festivals." Then, at least, they saw how Jews lived 
a Jewish life; they attended Shool Service, and heard the 
Rav preach. With poor Shlomoh, however, it was otherwise. 
His uncle and family used to join the other Jewish families 



In their trek to the nearby towns for the "High Festivals," 
but always left Shlomoh behind to look after the house and 
the animals. 

Yet although Shlomoh grew up to be so ignorant, he nev- 
ertheless had an urge to be "froom" He never during his 
lifetime managed to learn to davven" but still he did learn 
to recite a few blessings, as well as "Mode Ani" and the 
"Shema." As he only knew the "Berachoth" for bread and 
water, these were the only items of nourishment he would 
allow himself. 

Later, when Mordecai established the Beth-Hamidrash 
in the village, Shlomoh used to be among the first to come in 
the mornings, and although he could not "dawen," he used 
to put on a "Tallis," and "Tefillin," and listen to the others. 
At appropriate moments he would respond "Amen," and this 
gave him immense spiritual satisfaction. He likewise attend- 
ed the "Minchah" and "Maariv" services. 

Jose the Tailor was also far from being educated, but he 
at least knew all the prayers and Psalms by heart, and could 
read Hebrew. He was a very hospitable man, and had the 
great and uncommon virtue of never saying a wrong word 
about anyone. He was, in fact, a man of few words, feeling 
that in this way he was less likely to say anything he 

Because of the righteousness and sincerity of these two 
old Jews, Rabbi Ber used to spend a great deal of time with 
them, and try to teach them what he considered they could 
grasp. That is why Zalman Leib poked fun at him and tried 
to show that Rabbi Ber was as ignorant as these two old 
simple men with whom he associated. 

Once Zalman Leib found an excellent opportunity to try 
to make trouble for Rabbi Ber. It so happened that there was 
a "Shaalah" on an animal. After extensive investigation, 
Rabbi Ber decided that it was "Kosher." Zalman Leib told 
the butcher that according to his view, however, the animal 
was "Treifah." This put the butcher in a dilemma, and when 
the other Jewish villagers heard what had happened, they too 
were terribly confused and worried. Whom should they be- 


lieve? They knew that both were real Torah scholars, and 
they themselves knew too little to judge in such a matter. 
They were just scared lest, G-d forbid, they should be eating 

Rabbi Ber was very upset at the turn things had taken, 
and tried to explain to Zalman Leib the reason for his be- 
lieving the animal was "Kosher," but Zalman Leib only re- 
plied with insults. 

Rabbi Ber then wrote out the whole matter in great 
detail in a letter to the Eav of Janovitch, and before sending 
it off, showed it to Zalman Leib. The latter, however, just 
threw the letter angrily to the floor, saying he refused to look 
at such nonsense! 

A few days later Rabbi Ber received an answer from the 
Rav of Janovitch saying that Rabbi Ber's decision in the 
matter had been absolutely in order. The villagers were all 
delighted, but Zalman Leib refused even now to admit him- 
self in the wrong. Rabbi Ber might still have had to suffer 
persecution at the hands of Zalman Leib, but, fortunately, 
Mordecai the Miller moved to Janovitch and, of course, took 
his son-in-law with him. At long last Rabbi Ber could really 
enjoy his stay in the village. 

Mordecai had bought a house and shop in the market- 
place in Janovitch, right next to the Beth-Hamidrash where 
Zalman Chayim was "Shamash." Mordecai became a regular 
worshipper at the Beth-Hamidrash and used to listen eagerly 
to the "Shiurim" which Zalman Chayim held there. In a 
short while Mordecai became the "Gabai" (warden) of the 
Beth-Hamidrash, and helped Zalman Chayim in all his 

His son-in-law Zalman Leib also attended services at 
this Beth-Hamidrash and felt very much at home here, where 
he found a number of Torah scholars with whom he could 
discuss and debate and show off his Torah knowledge. 

Zalman Chayim the "Shamash" felt an attachment to- 
wards Zalman Leib because he had been instrumental in 
bringing about the "Match" between him and Mordecai's 



daughter. And so it was Zalman Chayim who arranged that 
Zalman Leifo should give a Talmud lesson at the Beth-Ha- 
midrash. Zalman Leib was delighted and so was his father- 
in-law, for all Janovitch talked about it. 

Soon Zalman Leib realized that whilst but a handful of 
students came to listen to his "Shiur," an audience of any- 
where up to a hundred or so attended Zalman Chayim's 
"Shiur." This made Zalman Leib terribly jealous of the 
Shamash and he began to annoy and persecute him too. 

Zalman Chayim had no idea what could be the reason 
for this hatred. He even discussed the matter with Morde- 
cai. It was not so much the fact that Zalman Leib's venom 
was directed against himself that troubled him, but that he 
should be capable of such a vice at all. 

Zalman Chayim felt rather guilty towards Mordecai for 
having "inflicted" such a son-in-law upon him, and for this 
reason, too, he felt it his responsibility to try and improve 
Zalman Leib's character. 

Despite Zalman Leib's obvious animosity towards him, 
Zalman Chayim always treated the former with the greatest 
respect, and whenever he gave a "Shiur" he took every op- 
portunity of telling his "students" that they should also at- 
tend the "Shiur" that Zalman Leib gave. At the same time 
he told them that Zalman Leib was a great scholar and they 
would be able to learn much from him. 

When Zalman Leib heard what Zalman Chayim had been 
saying about him despite all that had transpired between 
them, and when he noticed that Zalman Chayim continued 
to show respect and even affection towards him, he opened 
his eyes in wonderment! What manner of man was this who 
could continue to repay good for evil? 

He observed this strange "Shamash" more closely and 
could not help but admire his wonderful nature. It made him 
also realize, at last, how despicably he himself had been be- 
having! He determined to change his ways, for it was indeed 
high time that he not only learned the Torah, but also prac- 
ticed its teachings! 



So finally, Zalman Chayim's Influence brought about the 
desired result^ and a real and lasting friendship sprang up 
between "the two Zalmans." 


When Barach returned to Janovitch for the second time, 
tie found Zalman Leib was well-known in the town for his 
scholarship and good deeds. Baruch well knew that this re- 
markable change in Mordecai's son-in-law was due entirely 
to the fine example of goodness and mildness of character 
shown him by Zalman Chayim, 

Baruch was now anxious to make closer acquaintance 
with Zalman Chayim and learn from him something of his vir- 
tues; he also wanted to learn more about his past. But Zal- 
man Chayim was no longer in Janovitch. He had left the 
town a year previously, giving over the role of "Shamash" 
to another, and leaving no word as to whether he thought 
of returning at any time. 

Baruch wanted to renew his acquaintance with all Ms 
old friends, with all the people for whom he had worked dur- 
ing his stay in Janoviteh. He also visited the Beth-Hamid- 
rash near the cemetery which was his first "home" on ar- 
riving in the town. He still remembered his experiences there, 
his hopes, his pleasures, and his fears. He remembered too, 
that last awful experience there which sent him running 
to the other Beth-Hamidrash in the market-place where Zal- 
man Chayim was "Shamash." 

None of Baruch's old friends, the shopkeepers, bakers 
and others whom he now visited, recognized him, for he was 
now a young man, soon to be married. He asked them all to 
tell him how they lived, what they thought, and about their 
experiences. He wanted to learn from them something that 
would help him make up his mind what should be his "way 
of life" for the future. 

There was the example of Zalman Chayim devoting all his 
strength and energies to helping the ordinary folk. There was 
also that of the great genius Rabbi Simchah Zelig, known 



as "The Parush of Vitebsk," who lived a life of seclusion* 
spending day and night studying the Torah, and looking 
down upon ordinary uneducated people who were far re- 
moved from Torah-study. Whose way of life was the right 

Baruch had reached the "cross-roads." Until now he 
had spent Ms time in research and study, but he now had to 
choose which path to follow as his guiding line in life. 

Like everyone else who had met "The Parush of Vi- 
tebsk/' Baruch could not but admire the great scholarship 
of this grand old man. He had the greatest possible respect 
for the "Parush" who came from a well-known family of 
scholars in Poland. When he was but a lad of fifteen, he was 
already called "The Illuy (prodigy) of Stavisk." He knew 
the whole of "Shass," and his devotion to Torah-study was 
unsurpassed. In addition, he used to fast every Monday* 
Thursday, and Friday. From his earliest youth he would only 
indulge in Torah-talk, and would have nothing whatever to do 
with an ignorant person. He would not have known what to 
say to -such a person. 

He came to Vitebsk as a young man and settled himself 
in one of the rooms of the Beth-Hamidrash. He lived the life 
of a recluse for a matter of fifty years. 

It was now for Baruch to decide which of the two, Rabbi 
Simchah Zelig (with his vast Torah knowledge and life of 
solitude) or Zalman Chayim (with his manifold and bounte- 
ous activities amongst the Jewish multitude) came nearest 
to the Almighty's expectations. Baruch finally came to the 
conclusion that Zalman Chayim better fulfilled G-d's "ideal," 
for by his "way of life" he pleased both G-d and man! 

Although Zalman Chayim was no longer living in Jano- 
vitch, he had left his mark very clearly. At every step that 
Baruch took, he saw how much the influence of Zalman Cha- 
yim had meant to the Jews of Janovitch and surrounding 

At the Beth-Hamidrash where Zalman Chayim had been 
"Shamash" Baruch found Zalman Leib giving a "Shiur" to 



a large gathering. Zalman Leib was explaining the "Shiur" 
in an enthusiastic and scholarly manner, but this did not 
surprise Baruch who knew him of old as a learned scholar. 
What surprised and pleased him, however, was the extreme 
devoutness with which he "dawened" now as contrasted with 
the hurried, off-hand way in which he used to say his pray- 
ers before, which seemed so devoid of any warmth or positive 

Baruch also had an opportunity of observing Zalman 
Leib at home. When he visited him, he found him deep at 
study, his face flushed with interest and enthusiasm, as he 
delved into one of the books of "The MaHaRaL of Prague." 
Baruch felt that Zalman Leib was a Jew with his whole heart 
and soul as well as with his mind. 

There were others in Janovitch in whom Baruch found 
changes for the better, especially amongst those who wor- 
shipped in the Beth-Hamidrash in the market-place, and were 
thus under the guiding influence of Zalman Chayim. 

Take for example Pinye the Tinsmith. He was amongst 
the first who used to come to Zalman Chayim to learn "En 
Yaakov." This same Pinye now attended the Gemorro 
"Shiur" which was expounded by a prominent member of the 
community whose name was Yaakov Isaac. This "Shiur" was 
well-known in the town, not only on account of it being given 
by the aforementioned Yaakov Isaac, but because it was at- 
tended by the most learned and scholarly Jews of the town. 
And here was Pinye sitting at the table, not merely a passive 
listener by any means, but actually participating in the learn- 
ed discussion which was taking place. 

Here was proof enough that with patience, perseverance, 
and love, it was possible to educate and elevate ordinary folk 
even though they had had no education in their youth. 
Others who had thus benefitted from Zalman Chayim's teach- 
ing and influence were Simeon the Flour-merchant, Simeon 
the Butcher, and Feive the Potter. These three had regularly 
attended Zalman Chayim's "Chumash-Shiur," and it had 
seemed at that time that they would never attain any higher 



degree of learning. Yet Baruch now found them studying 
"Mishnayoth" and apparently having a good understanding 
of the subject. 

But apart from the fact that Zalman Chayim had man- 
aged to turn these unlearned Jews into something like schol- 
ars, their characters had vastly improved, too. Whereas at 
one time they had stood in the market-place or in their shops 
or at their stalls engaged in idle gossip, or perhaps more often 
quarelling with each other, or hurling epithets at each other 
which were not very nice, now they conducted themselves in 
exemplary fashion, as true-G-d-fearing Jews. 

There were others, too, who came to the Beth-Hamidrash 
to the "Shiur," who, Baruch knew, were there solely due to 
Zalman Chayim's influence. 

There was one whom everyone had once called "Saul the 
Horse-thief" and another called "Yaakov Zalman the Musi- 
cian." Saul's nick-name speaks for itself. As for Yaakov Zal- 
man, he had been looked upon with contempt for the fact that 
he used to play to the local landowners in their castles, and 
was known to conduct himself there in an un- Jewish manner. 

Now, however, Baruch found them completely changed 
in their conduct. They had both given up their previous 
means of livelihood. Saul had taken up honest work, and 
Yaakov Zalman now played only at Jewish "Simchoth," and 
both spent their leisure time at the Beth-Hamidrash! 

Yet a real revelation to Baruch was Mordecai the Miller 
who had acquired a shop in Janovitch and was now the war- 
den at the Beth-Hamidrash. This Mordecai who had spent 
all his life in a village and had barely understood the simplest 
"Shiur," now attended a Talmud-Shiur and participated in 
the discussions. Here was another living example of what 
could be achieved for the ordinary uneducated Jew. Baruch 
was now convinced, without the shadow of a doubt, that the 
right path for him to follow was not that of Rabbi Sim- 
chah Zelig, but that of Zalman Chayim the "Shamash," who 
had spread both Torah and good deeds amongst the ordinary 



One day, Banich, who loved to go outside the town to 
admire G-d's handiwork Nature, went for a long walk 
In the country. He sat down to rest on a fallen tree-trunk 
and soon lost himself in thought. His mind went back to 
the talk he had had with his brother-in-law, the scholarly 
Rabbi Joseph Isaac, prior to his, Baruch's, leaving Vi- 
tebsk. It took place on a warm and sunny day in spring 
(early in Nissan )* After the cold winter which had passed, 
it was an absolute joy to sit in the warm sunshine. Baruch 
was on Ms way home from his work when, walking through 
the park, he saw his brother-in-law sitting on a bench, Ba- 
ruch joined him and an interesting discussion sprang up 
between them, 

Baruch had made a remark about the healing properties 
of the sun, whereupon his brother-in-law embarked upon a 
discussion on the question whether it was right or wrong 
to benefit from something which had served as an object of 
worship to idolaters. He brought arguments from the Trac- 
tate "Avodah Zarah" showing that it is permissible to bene- 
fit or have pleasure from something not created by man, even 
though this thing had been used by idolaters as their object 
of worship. 

He brought other quotations from "Pesachim" to show 
how It Is possible to deduce that such benefit should be for- 
bidden. Then he himself answered this apparent contradic- 
tion by saying : "But the obvious reply to such an argument 
is that where the object of worship (as in the case of the 
sun, which was created by the Almighty in the six days of 
Creation) was in existence "before the worshippers chose it as 
a deity, then there is no prohibition to benefit from it." 

G-d had created the sun for the specific benefit of Man- 
kind. It was given the power to spread light, to give plants 
strength to grow and the earth to bring forth food for G-d's 
creatures. The sun also had healing properties which could 
cure many diseases. The fact that the "Sun-worshippers" 



along later deified the sun, is no reason for our 
abstaining from the pleasures the sun holds for man. 

Baruch remembered how impressed he was at the time 
with the philosophy of his learned brother-in-law. But now 
that he had come back to Janovitch with its revelations of 
all that Zalman Chayim had achieved in the moral and ma- 
terial uplift of its inhabitants, it seemed to Baruch that schol- 
arly expositions were comparatively unimportant when con- 
trasted with the social welfare work of such a Jew as Zalman 
Chayim, who understood the realities of life and dealt so 
kindly and helpfully with the every-day problems of people. 

During his short stay in Janovitch, Baruch cultivated 
the friendship of Abraham Yitzchak, the third son-in-law of 
Mordecai the Miller. This Abraham Yitzchak was entirely 
influenced by Zalman Chayim in his outlook on life and his 
activities. He followed in his footsteps by teaching the sim- 
ple working people and devoting his time to their welfare. 

Baruch studied the faces of the pupils sitting round the 
table at Abraham Yitzchak's "Shiur." There were old men, 
younger men, and even youths. Every one of them listened 
to the "Shiur" with obvious interest and pleasure. Abraham 
Yitzchak had the power of exposition and the ability to draw 
and hold the attention of his listeners, 

To Baruch's astonishment, he saw that one of the pupils 
was none other than young Chayim, the son of Simeon the 
Flour-dealer! Baruch remembered him from three years ago. 
He was a real "black sheep," an absolute pest. He was up 
to every kind of mischief and, during the period when Baruch 
worked for his father, carrying sacks of flour to the bakers, 
Chayim plagued him at every opportunity. And now Baruch 
could hardly believe the evidence of his own eyes: here was 
Chayim listening as keenly as the others, whilst Abraham 
Yitzchak went on with his "Shiur." His audience was so 
thrilled with the legends he used to tell them, that they 
talked about them to their friends and all were inspired by 
their moral teachings and influence. 

Baruch once listened as Abraham Yitzchak told his 
'"class" the story of Rabbi Akiba; of how he Iiad been a 



humble and simple shepherd, uneducated and in fact averse 
to scholars. Then he told of his "change of heart" when 
already a grown man, and how he began to turn towards 
the Torah and love it to such an extent, that he studied It 
until he became one of the greatest and most famous figures 
in Jewish history! 

Abraham Yitzchak told this story with exceptional en- 
thusiasm, obviously wanting his audience to realize the moral 
of the story, namely, that no matter how late one began one's 
education, every Jew should be encouraged by Rabbi Akiba's 
glorious example. 

Abraham Yitzchak always used to say that scholars have 
a definite duty towards the ordinary folk, and he certainly 
practised what he preached, for he utilized every occasion to 
take them under his wing and care for them in the way he 
had learned from the "Shamash" Zalman Chayim. 

Baruch had occasion to notice that, despite the great and 
wide beneficial influence that Zalman Chayim had left behind 
him in Janovitch, there still existed some of the old spirit 
among the scholars, of looking down upon the uneducated 
to the extent of treating them with contempt and ridicule. 

Such an instance was the following: 

It happened on a Monday at the time of the "Reading 
of the Law." Shlomoh the Baker, or Shlomoh of Vitebsk as 
he was sometimes called, rushed into the Beth-Hamidrash and 
immediately began to "dawen" on his own, as the "Minyan" 
was far ahead of him. 

Shlomoh was a simple man, but a G-d fearing Jew who 
was sincere in his every action, and certainly in his prayers. 

The "Shamash" had not noticed that Shlomoh was 
"dawening" independently and was at a point where he 
should not be interrupted, and called him up to the Torah. 
Shlomoh went up to the Torah, after which he returned to 
his place and continued with his "dawening" at the point 
at which he had left off. 

When some of his fellow-worshippers saw him taking his 
"Tzitzith" and reciting the "Shema," they realized he had 



made a break at an Inappropriate point, and so they decided 
to have some fun at his expense. 

As soon as the Service was over, they crowded round 
the innocent and unsuspecting Shlomoh, calling him names 
and deriding him for his appalling ignorance. "Shame on 
you, you ignoramus! Don't you know that you dare not 
interrupt the 'Shema'? So instead of giving honor to the 
Torah, you desecrated it." 

Shlomoh was mortified. 

It must indeed have been a terrible crime he had com- 
mitted if even the great scholar and social leader of Jano- 
vitch, Yaakov Isaac, was amongst those who were deriding 
him and scoffing at his ignorance. Poor Shlomoh was in 
tears. He began pleading with Yaakov Isaac to tell him in 
what way he could atone for his great sin, unintentional 
though it was. Nothing would be too hard or too painful 
for him to do, if only it would wipe out his offence against 
the Torah! 

"Don't you realize what a terrible sin you have com- 
mitted?" said Yaakov Isaac to the unhappy man. "You have 
insulted the Torah and taken G-d's Name in vain!" 

Baruch, who was watching the scene, was horrified to 
find Yaakov Isaac behaving so meanly, and he was terribly 
distressed to see poor Shlomoh's agony of shame. Tears stood 
in the baker's eyes as he begged Yaakov Isaac to tell him how 
he could possibly atone for his unwitting transgression! 

"The only way to purge you of your dreadful sin is for 
you to fast," said Yaakov Isaac to him sternly. In his awful 
misery, the poor baker did not see that he was only being 
.laughed at. 

"I shall commence my fast at once!" said Shlomoh to 
Yaakov Isaac, eager to show his readiness to atone for his 

"You ignoramus!" retorted Yaakov Isaac. "Don't you 
know that a fast of an individual must be arranged before 
Minchah on the previous day? It is a disgrace that we must 
put up with such ignorance!" And off he went with his 
cronies, all laughing as if enjoying a grand joke. 



The poor baker's discomfiture was pitiful to behold, 
and just as Baraefa was wondering what he could say to com- 
fort him, a young man stepped up to Shlomoh, put his hand 
on his shoulder and said to him: 

"Don't you worry, my friend/ you have done nothing 
wrong. It was quite in order for you to interrupt your davven- 
-ing at the place you were up to, and you have done nothing 
to offend the Almighty. On the contrary, He is much more 
likely to accept your honesty and sincerity than the mean 
attitude of Yaakov Isaac." 

Baruch saw it was Abraham Yitzchak, the third son-in- 
law of Mordecai the miller, who spoke so kindly and feelingly 
to Shlomoh, and he felt he would so much like to learn more 
about this splendid young man. 

Shlomoh was so moved by Abraham Yitzehak's desire to 
console him, that the tears just flowed down his cheeks 

"Why do you cry?" asked Abraham Yitzchak in surprise. 

"I am reminded of a somewhat similar happening which 
occurred in my youth," replied Shlomoh, wiping his face with 
his handkerchief. "But you probably have no time to listen 
to my story," he continued, "yon must have more important 
things to do." 

"No, indeed, I haven't. Do please tell me, I am most inter- 
ested," said Abraham Yitzchak anxious to cheer the baker and 
help him forget the nasty experience he had just been through. 

"My father was quite a scholar," began Shlomoh. "He was 
a well-known Melamed in Vitebsk, and greatly respected as 
a Gd-f earing Jew. He used to go to davven every morning at 
the old Beth-Hamidrash, and when I was about ten years 
of age, he began to take me with him. 

"Once, when I was about twelve years old, I was davvening 
one day, when I looked out of the window. Something dis- 
tracted my attention: I forgot I was in Shool; and got lost 
in thought. 

"Suddenly I recalled where I was and wanted to resume 
my prayers, but of course the Minyan was far ahead of me, 



and in order to finish at the same time as they, I had to skip 
quite a piece! 

"For some days my conscience troubled me. I didn't 
know what to do. I felt I ought to tell my father, and then 
I thought it would be a worse thing to upset him than the 
fact of having missed some part of the Service. In any case, 
I argued, I am not yet 'Bar-Mitzvah' so it is not really BO 
serious ! 

"When Yom-Kippur came round, my father was invited 
to give a sermon, and of all subjects, he chose to speak about 
the importance of being sincere, and of the wickedness of 

"He spoke so feelingly and so earnestly that I just felt 
as if he knew all about my sin, and was talking directly to me! 

"As soon as I could get him on one side, I told him what 
had happened. He was very stern with me and made me 
promise that I would never again do such a thing. He said 
I must always davven out of a Siddur, not take my eyes away 
from the words, then I would not be distracted by anything 
that might be going on around me. 

"I can honestly say that I have since followed that advice 
without exception! 

"My poor father, G-d rest his soul, wanted me to become 
a scholar like him, but unfortunately he became very ill and 
died when I was but a lad of fourteen. 

"Being the eldest child, I had to help my mother keep 
the home going, and when soon after she too died, I had the 
whole responsibility of supporting my poor little orphaned 
brothers and sisters. I saw to it that my brothers should be 
able to attend the Yeshivah, and helped my sisters get married. 

"You can guess it was no easy task for me, and though 
I did not mind the hard work, I always regretted that I had 
no time to continue with my studies. 

"I spent my leisure time saying Tillim and davvening, 
and though occasionally I dipped into a Gemorro, I never had 
time to learn 'Shulchan-Aruch.' That is why I did not know 
the Din (law) regarding interrupting my davvening. 



"But you must be tired of my talking so long/' Shlomoh 
said suddenly. 

"Not at all. Do carry on," Abraham Yitzchak assured 
him, and Baruch nodded in agreement, to show that he too 
was most interested to listen. 

Thus reassured, Shlomoh continued. 

"I worked as a baker, and believe me it was no easy 
work. The hours were long, and as you know it meant mostly 
working at nights, so that there should be fresh bread and 
cakes in the morning. 

"Eventually I earned sufficient to get married, and that, 
I think, is all there is to my story," Shlomoh concluded. 

The whole painful incident left a profound impression 
upon Baruch. His heart grieved for poor Shlomoh whom he 
saw literally writhing in agony under the impact of Yaakov 
Isaac's cruel jest a little while ago. 

Baruch would have felt badly enough about such a scene 
under any circumstances, but what disappointed him more 
than anything was to see the "great" Yaakov Isaac, one of 
the most respected leaders in the Jewish community of Jano- 
vitch, taking such an active part in the persecution of the 
simple, honest, if illiterate Shlomoh the baker. More par- 
ticularly, as Baruch knew the interesting background and 
past history of this same Yaakov Isaac. 



4n xfr0ordln@ry Jew. -4 if&el that FaJtab Tfte nipple f Aof 

Fell For from fhe Tree. 


Yaakov Isaac was the most respected man in all Janovitch. 
He was the man to whom everybody turned for advice and 
whose word carried the most weight everywhere/ People 
feared him, too, because of his power and influence. He was 
born in Janovitch and was the son of Shimshon Elia who set 
Janovitch on its feet. Shimshon Elia was the son of the 
Illuy Rabbi Yaakov of Vitebsk. He was well known as a great 
land expert. He was indeed capable in many fields, being also 
a mathematician and linguist. 

Because of all these attributes, Count Lipsky, the owner 
of numerous estates near Janovitch, appointed him as his 
overseer, and therefore Shimshon Elia settled down in Jano- 

Thanks to Shimshon Elia many Jews were assured of a 
living. The town began to prosper and develop both spiritually 
and materially. All institutions, whether for charity or Torah- 
study, were enlarged and strengthened, and in the course of 
about twenty years the Jewish community of Janovitch in- 
creased greatly in quantity and quality. 

The town attracted many scholars, and learning attained 
a high standard in this community. 



The real center of Interest in Janovitcli the 

house of the wealthy Shimshon Ella, which a 

"house of assembly and consultation of men/' 

It had an ever-open door for guests, particularly for any 
with a thirst for Torah. He was always ready to help 
with advice or money. Many people became rich through Ms 
help, and he was exceedingly open-handed in assisting the 

Because of all the aforementioned reasons, 
looked up to Shimshon Elia and he was called "The Prince of 
Janovitch." Actually people took more notice of 
of Count Lipsky himself! 

Near Janovitch there lived a small land-owner who 
very jealous of Shimshon Elia's important position and of 
the trust whic Count Lipsky had placed in him. So he slan- 
dered him to the Count, inventing the story that Shimshon 
Elia had falsified the accounts of the estates, and, what is 
more, there were witnesses to prove it! 

When the Jews of Janovitch heard about the terrible 
slander, they were greatly disturbed. They called a 
meeting and decided to proclaim a public Fast; then 
would all go to Count Lipsky and give their oath that Shim- 
shon Elia was innocent. 

Shimshon Elia had many sympathizers, too, amongst the 
people of the villages and estates where he worked, and 
all decided to send representatives to Count Lipsky at his 
estate near Vilna, to appeal to him on behalf of Shimshon Elia. 

The calmest of all was the victim himself. As was Ms 
w-ent whenever he saw anyone in trouble, Shimshon Elia said 
that one should have faith in G-d and, if as now, there was 
real trouble ahead, one had to search oneself and see why 
the Almighty had sent it. There must be some failing in the 
sufferer and he himself meant to subject himself to a deep 
self -searching now, and see what could have merited the 
punishment of the slander being brought against him. 

Shimshon Elia was a remarkable man. He maintained, 
everything that happened was directed by Providence for the 
good of mankind. He never boasted of his greatness nor 



himself in high esteem because of it. For this reason^ too s 
he was not alarmed at the possibility of his descent from the 
high position he had held. He believed one had to accept 
everything G-d willed, the good and the bad, with equal grace. 

As a child he had been rather delicate; Ms father de- 
cided therefore that he must not be burdened with too much 
Torah study. Instead, his father concentrated on teaching 
him all the virtues in order to become a really good Jew. 

Shimshon Elia's mother came from Prague. Her uncle 
Rabbi Yechiel Moshe also came from Prague. He considered 
himself to be a disciple of the famous "MaHaRaL of Prague," 
always studying his books, and acting according to their 
teachings. Rabbi Yechiel Moshe tried to teach the small 
Shimshon Elia along the same lines, and that is why he had 
the firm belief implanted in him that everything that hap- 
pened to one was due to Divine Providence. 

When Shimshon Elia heard about the decision of the 
community to arrange a Fast day on his account, it upset 
him greatly. He decided, however, that perhaps the Fast 
would serve a useful purpose in any case as an atonement 
for any sins any of them had committed. He therefore joined 
them in their heart-rending cries to the Almighty to have 
mercy upon them in their distress. 

But when he heard about their second resolution to go 
to the Count and swear that he, Shimshon Elia, was innocent, 
he could not agree. He insisted that they must not take this 
oath on his account, and they need not worry about him he 
was ready and willing to put his trust in the Almighty. 

Some weeks later there arrived in Janovitch three mes- 
sengers from Count Lipsky. They took a whole week to check 
up on the stocks of grain, etc., which were in the charge of 
Shimshon Elia. They looked through all the accounts of 
the estates, and after this very thorough investigation they 
were quite convinced that everything was absolutely correct 
and in perfect order! The accusation against Shimshon Elia 
was false! He was publicly proclaimed innocent and re- 
instated in his post by Count Lipsky. Moreover, the Count 
deemed it his duty to state publicly that he had implicit faith 



in his Jewish overseer and manager. As a sign of Ms friend- 
ship for him, he sent him a silver candelabra with six 
branches, about three feet high. Shimshon Elia took the can- 
delabra to a silversmith in Vitebsk who added two more 
branches to it. He then presented it to the large Beth-Ha- 
midrash there, to be used for the kindling of the Chanukah 

Yaakov Isaac was the only son of Shimshon Elia and 
was the apple of his eye! The best teachers possible were 
engaged to teach him, and when he reached the age of "Rar- 
Mitzvah," his father, on the advice of the famous "Parush 
of Vitebsk/* engaged the well-known scholar Rabbi Naftali 
Zeev to teach his son. 

This Rabbi Naftali Zeev was always studying the Talmud. 
He devoted much of his studies also to philosophy in such 
books as "The Guide for the Perplexed" and the "Kuzari." 
He was in truth a G-d fearing man, but by nature cold and 
unemotional. He maintained that one should be guided by 
reason entirely, leaving out any emotional feelings. He fol- 
lowed this ruling even in his studies and manner of teaching, 
as well as in his mode of living. 

Yaakov Isaac became greatly attached to his teacher and 
thought that everything the latter thought and did was right. 
Yaakov Isaac learned a great deal of Torah from his teacher, 
and continued his lessons right up to the time he married. 
But when his father noticed that even in matters of charity 
his heart was unaffected by the troubles of the needy, giving 
only that amount that he considered "just," he was very 
grieved and had a talk with Rabbi Naftali Zeev asking him 
to correct Yaakov Isaac in the matter. To his dismay, he 
discovered that his son was absolutely following the guidance 
of his teacher. 

Shimshon Elia who had been trained so differently, 
realized too late that his son Yaakov Isaac was not following 
his father's path, that of love for his fellows, but that of his 
teacher who could find no place in his life for any but the 




Shimshon Elia recalled to mind Ms great-uncle Yechiel 
Moshe. What a fine and noble character he had! His 
generosity knew no bounds. 

Shimshon Elia knew little of the history of the old man 
save what his mother had told him about him. His great- 
uncle never spoke about his past. 

The old man's father was a very rich man who married 
him to the daughter of a friend of his, equally wealthy. Both 
the father and father-in-law of his great-uncle had their 
Beth-Hamidrash where they maintained a group of students 
who devoted all their time to Torah-study. They themselves 
also spent the greatest part of their time likewise. 

When Yechiel Moshe's father died in Prague, he left his 
son well provided for, but the biggest portion of his wealth, 
he left to charity. 

Yechiel Moshe had no financial worries and lived happily 
with his devoted wife for thirty-five years, despite the fact 
that they had no children. 

After her death he sold his home, gave the money it 
realized to charity, and went to live with Shimshon Elia's 
parents. First they lived in Cracow and later in Vitebsk. 

Shimshon Elia remembered how his great-uncle used to 
send out his agents to all the surrounding towns and town- 
lets to seek out orphans, widows, needy students or, in fact, 
anyone who was "down and out" and could do with a little 
financial assistance. 

Not only did he devote much time to studying the Torah, 
but he also conducted a Shiur where he concentrated on the 
teachings of the MaHaRaL of Prague. One of the teachings 
which Yechiel Moshe always tried to impress upon his listen- 
ers was that they should learn "Haazinu" and recite it every 
day, even several times a day. It was so "uplifting" that it 
would elevate all who recited it sincerely: merchants before 
doing business, artisans before beginning their tasks, and 
students before commencing their studies. He said it was a 
"soul-purifier" and they should all learn it by heart, 



Shimshon Elia was greatly influenced by his respected 
great-uncle, whom he admired so much, for he considered him 
perfect in every sense. 

He recalled a conversation he had had with him when he 
was still a young boy. It was in connection with old Pinehas. 

Pinehas at this time was in his seventies, tall, broad- 
shouldered, and with a long white beard. He had worked ter- 
ribly hard all his life at all sorts of heavy jobs, but now he 
was getting old, Shimshon Ella's father took him into his 
household to be his handyman, where he could live in greater 
eas^. One day Shimshon Elia was in his great-uncle's room 
when old Pinehas entered, carrying a bundle of wood to make 
a fi^e. 

ks soon as Pinehas came in, Yechiel Moshe stood up and 
did not take his seat again until old Pinehas had finished mak- 
ing the fire and left the room. 

Shimshon Elia looked at his great-uncle with astonish- 
ment! Was not his great-uncle a respected personage and old 
Pinehas, after all, but a servant? 

"It is true that Pinehas is a servant, but we are told to 
respect old age without distinction," explained his great- 
uncle. And with a sigh added: 

"How I envy him earning his living by the work of his 
own hands! I have so often regretted that I was always sup- 
ported by my father's money. It can never give one the same 
satisfaction as earning one's own living!" 

Yechiel Moshe always maintained his attitude of respect 
towards old Pinehas, and Shimshon Elia thought it very fine. 

After Yechiel Moshe died, his will was read, where he 
instructed that after deducting certain legacies to his near 
relatives, the major part of his money was to be distributed 
to certain deserving charities which he named. 

In addition, a book wherein he used to keep his accounts 
was found, and it was now seen how very extensive and gen- 
erous had been his gifts and support to numberless needy 
persons! And all arranged secretly, so that the people re- 
ceiving his charity should not feel degraded at having to ac- 
cept help. 



Yes, there was Indeed a great and noble man! And it was 
with a sigh of disappointment that Shimshon Elia compared 
Ms late revered great-uncle Yechiel Moshe who had taught him 
the true meaning of virtue, with his son's present teacher, 
Naf tali Zeev ? from whom his son could learn Torah but with- 
out its inner teaching of "brotherly love." 

SMmshon Elia was so troubled about his son, that, as 
always, he turned for advice to his life-long friend Moshe, or s 
as he was known in Janovitch, "Faithful Moshe." 

Moshe came from Vitebsk, the same as SMmshon Elia, 
and they had been to school together. Shimshon Elia loved and 
admired his friend who reminded him so much of his late be- 
loved great-uncle Yechiel Moshe. He was equally good-hearted, 
a great scholar and noble in every way. 

When Shimshon Elia was appointed as overseer and 
manager of the estates of Count Lipsky, he took Moshe with 
him to be his assistant, 

Moshe kept the accounts for him and was his right-hand 
man. Shimshon Elia had complete confidence in him and made 
him his personal adviser. 

There was an absolutely true and frank friendship be- 
tween them. So much so, that Moshe eventually became his 
guide in all things, and not only did Shimshon Elia not object 
to being "corrected," but he gladly welcomed it, as he knew 
Moshe only meant it for his good, and for the improvement 
of his character. 

It was not surprising therefore that Shimshon Elia came 
to him whenever he was in trouble. 

When Shimshon Elia had been married for some time, he 
was still without an heir, and this made him and his wife 
very unhappy. They had wealth, good friends, and a respected 
place in the community, but they could not be happy so long 
as they were childless. More than once his wife had her hopes 
raised, but though she gave birth several times, tragically 
enough, her baby always died in its infancy! 

"Tell me/' said Shimshon Elia to his friend Moshe, "what 
would you advise me to do ? I would do anything, if only I had 
a son to succeed me! I always say everything is for the best, 



but I cannot feel that this is so in the case of my being 

"Indeed you have my sympathy, dear friend/' said Moshe 
to him, "but you know as well as I do that the Almighty is 
never in the wrong. Therefore, the fault is in yourself. Search 
your heart well until you find wherein you have failed." 

Anyone else in Shimshon Elia's place might have felt in- 
sulted at such criticism, but not Shimshon Elia. Indeed, he 
asked eagerly: 

"Moshe, my dear friend and adviser y how would you ad- 
vise me to go about it?" 

"I should fast and pray very hard and I am sure our 
dear Father in Heaven will grant you and your wife your 
dearest desire. Only have faith in Him." 

And when in due course a son was born to Shimshon 
Elia and his wife, Moshe became, if possible, even dearer to 
them than before. And certainly his advice was always sought 
and valued. 

The child was called Yaakov Isaac and he was the very 
"apple of their eyes" to his devoted parents. Nothing was 
too good for him, and they spent much time and thought on 
his upbringing and education. 

When they thought him old enough, Shimshon Elia dis- 
cussed with "Faithful Moshe" the question of obtaining a 
teacher for Yaakov Isaac. At Shimshon Elia's request, Moshe 
travelled in search of the best teacher obtainable, and came 
back with Naftali Zeev. 

It was obvious therefore that Shimson Elia should now 
again discuss the problem of his son's "one-sided" education 
with Moshe, and the latter, feeling to some extent responsible 
for the failure in choosing a teacher not quite after their 
hearts, tried in every way to use his own influence in showing 
Yaakov Isaac a better and kinder way of life. 

Despite all his patient and persistent efforts, he could 
see that they had absolutely no effect upon Yaakov Isaac. 
The young boy was content to follow his teacher and his ideas, 
namely, that the study of Torah and carrying out its precepts 



to the letter (they forgot about the "spirit* '. . .) was Ideal 
and sufficient. 

"If only he could be a little more like his father/' thought 

"Maybe he will improve in time. I sincerely hope so!" 

When Yaakov Isaac grew to manhood, his father took him 
into his office, showed him how the aff airs of the estate were 
conducted and gradually gave over the reins of management 
into his hands. 

Yaakov Isaac had an alert mind and it did not take him 
long to get an understanding of the work, so that when he 
eventually took complete charge, his father was able to leave 
the affairs of the estate in his care, and devote himself to com- 
munal matters which were very dear to him. 

For fifty years Shimshon Elia served the community, 
and when he died he was deeply mourned by all Janovitch, 
who knew such a man could not easily be replaced! 


Yaakov Isaac enjoyed the same respect and confidence of 
Count Lipsky, as had his father. He proved capable and trust- 
worthy and the Count was well pleased with him. When the 
Count died, Yaakov Isaac continued to work for his heir, and 
was treated with the same respect as before. 

Yaakov Isaac could not have been happy had he not 
found time for Torah-study. So he arranged that part of his 
day should be reserved for studying by himself, and in addi- 
tion he gave a SJiiur for any of the people of Janovitch who 
cared to attend. 

Because of his wealth and position, he was considered 
the lay leader of the town, and was consulted in all matters 
affecting the Jewish community. 

Whilst he was respected, and by some even feared, he 
certainly did not hold the affection of the people as had his 
father before him! 

Even in matters of charity, which he gave quite gen- 
erously, it was obvious that he gave help because he con- 



sldered it to be his duty, and there was no apparent pleasure 
In the giving and there could not therefore be any pleasure 
in the hearts of the recipients. He forgot that the manner 
of giving was perhaps even more important than the financial 

About twenty years after the death of Shimshon Elia, 
there arose a dispute amongst the heirs of Count Lipsky, so 
that Yaakov Isaac felt he would be happier out of it. 

He wound up all the affairs of the estate and had the 
accounts checked and verified by the government authorities 
so that he should leave everything in absolute order. He then 
started to do business in flax and was very successful. 

Yaakov Isaac was very happy in his success. He enjoyed 
his wealth and his place of honor in the community. He did 
not care that he was not loved as was his late father, for 
he saw no necessity for seeking popularity amongst people 
whom, in his conceit, he considered his inferiors. 

That is why he thought it a great joke to make fun of 
that poor simple baker Shlomoh, when the latter responded to 
the "Aliyah"- in the middle of "Shema." 

How different from Yaakov Isaac was Abraham Yitzchak ! 

Baruch was so impressed with the way Abraham Yitz- 
chak treated the baker, that he made up his mind to observe 
him, see how he lived, how he spent his time, and what he 
could learn from him and about him. For he felt that he was 
a young man well worth taking notice of. 

All he discovered convinced him once again that here 
was another example of one who found serving the humble 
and ordinary folk more worth-while than anything else! 



The Cobbler of Vitebsk 

The Scholar who Become Cobbler. The Sf0r-Gozer of 
Hcrfinka. The Red-Headed Cohen. Bariieh Seeks out More 


Abraham Yitzchak was born in Vitebsk where his father, 
whose name was David Leib, earned his living as a cobbler. 

For a long time Abraham Yitzchak believed that his 
father was just a simple cobbler, but later he discovered that 
he was in fact a Mystic, who lived a simple life purposely 
to show others, by example, that they too could live thus. 

David Leib had come from Minsk and was the son of the 
Dayan of Minsk, Rabbi Zwi Arieh, who was famed far and 
wide for his wealth of learning and righteousness. 

It was therefore only to be expected that the son of such 
a great personality should be no ordinary person. And David 
Leib was in reality a scholar of achievement. 

David Leib saw how his father, the famous Dayan, de- 
voted much of his time to metaphysics, and became eager to 
follow his example. His father, however, discouraged him, tell- 
ing him he was still far too young for such study and would be 
better occupied in devoting his time to the study of "Shass" 
and "Poskim." 

David Leib attended a Yeshivah and his father watched 
his progress with satisfaction for, respecting his father's 
wishes, he concentrated on the study of Gemorro and made 
excellent progress. 



Rabbi Zwl Arieh supervised Ms son's studies right up to 
the time of his marriage to the daughter of the wealthy citi- 
zen Chaim of Vitebsk, who promised David Leib he would 
provide his living costs for eight years, so that he could con- 
tinue with his studies. 

Feeling he was now ripe for entering into the vast field 
of metaphysics, David Leib was eager to begin. Yet, although 
he was by now twenty-two years old, he still had a feeling 
that he ought to talk the matter over with his father who 
had always supervised his studies. But Vitebsk was a long 
way from Minsk, and there seemed no likelihood of arranging 
an early meeting. 

Eventually David Leib decided he could not possibly 
wait any longer and delved into the study of metaphysics with 
a will. 

He found it all so fascinating that he suddenly realized 
that he was neglecting the study of Talmud, and he reproached 
himself for it, deciding he ought rather to turn to studies 
which would improve his character. 

This led him to the study of ethics, and he found himself 
in a new world! These books on ethics made such an im- 
pression on him that he felt he must devote every minute 
to the study of them and leave everything else! 

He began to live differently, more earnestly, seeking only 
that which he felt would elevate him to a higher plane. But 
he did not want it to be noted, so he became very reserved and 
hid his new ideas and "modus vivendi" as far as possible, 
even from his parents-in-law! 

They in turn began to ask him why he showed no inclina- 
tion to become a Rabbi, for, anticipating that that would be 
the culmination of his years of study, they had in fact already 
been boastfully talking to their friends about their son-in- 
law's certainty of becoming a great Rabbi! 

David Leib just shrugged his shoulders and said he was 
sorry to disappoint them, but he did not intend accepting any 
post as Rabbi. 

His parents-in-law were completely taken aback. 

"Not become a Rabbi?" his mother-in-law burst out 



angrily. "What else do you think you'll be good for? Isn't 
that what you've been studying for all your life!" 

"Well, as there are still another three years left of the 
eight years' maintenance you promised me, 1 ' replied David 
Leib quietly, "need we discuss the matter now?" 

From that time onwards, his mother-in-law did every- 
thing to make his life a misery, and feeling that their dis- 
appointment was understandable, he decided to have a talk 
with his parents-in-law. 

When a suitable opportunity occurred, he explained to 
them that he himself was quite determined upon the life 
he meant to lead. But as it would not be fair to his wife and 
to them to continue to incur their displeasure by Ms way of 
life which was contrary to their ideas, he would be ready to 
give his wife her freedom by divorcing her. And as there were 
no children of the marriage, she could easily remarry and 
choose someone who would make her more happy. 

When his wife heard of his suggestion she was very up- 
set and said she- couldn't think of a divorce, for she loved her 
husband dearly and whatever he did was right in her eyes! 

David Leib could not feel comfortable in the house of 
his parents-in-law who, at every turn, lectured him on his 
apparent disinterestedness in thinking of a career for his 

This led him to shrink into himself even more than 

Six years after his marriage, his wife gave birth to a 
daughter, and a year later to a son, whom they named Abra- 
ham Yitzchak. 

David Leib's parents-in-law now lost their patience with 
their son-in-law completely. 

"Look here, David Leib," they said to him. "You are now 
the father of two children. Surely you will now accept a 
rabbinical post to support your family! We have fulfilled our 
part as promised and kept you for the eight years." 

"I am sorry to disappoint you," he answered them, "but 
I am still determined not to become a Rabbi." And to their 
surprise, he continued. "You need not worry though, for I 



have been learning how to be a cobbler. I have already rented 
a suitable house and workshop on the outskirts of the town ? 
where I shall take my family and trouble yon no more." 

His mother-in-law barely recovered her speech and posi- 
tively screamed at him: 

"So you want to make a laughing-stock out of us, do you? 
If we wanted a cobbler as a son-in-law we need not have gone 
to the expense of supporting you for eight years! We could 
have had our daughter marry a cobbler at the beginning and 
saved ourselves much heartache and money!" 

"You must give our daughter a divorce so that our shame 
be wiped out," roared the father-in-law. 

"And have I no say in the matter?" interrupted their 
daughter. "As far as I am concerned, whatever David Leib 
chooses to do, I am with him!" 

Seeing they could achieve nothing with their son-in-law, 
nor with their own daughter, they decided the matter was 
serious enough for them to summon their "Mechutan" the 
Dayan of Minsk, Rabbi Zwi Arieh, and see, if he could use his 
influence to persuade his son to give up his "crazy" decision 
to become a cobbler, and take up the more honorable profes- 
sion of Rabbi instead. 

They shuddered to think that even Rabbi Zwi Arieh 
might not be able to prevail upon his son to give up his cob- 
bling! How would they ever again be able to look their friends 
in the face! 


When the news got around that the famous Dayan of 
Minsk, Rabbi Zwi Arieh, was coming on a visit to Vitebsk, 
everyone became busy! A "reception committee" was formed 
and all the "big" people in the community came together to 
discuss how best to receive so distinguished a guest! 

Of course it was agreed that David Leib's parents-in-law 
had first claim on being the hosts of the Dayan. 

They then chose delegates who were to meet Rabbi Zwi 



Arieh a few stations before Vitebsk, so that they could escort 
Mm, in a fitting manner, into the town. 

As the day of the arrival of the great man drew near, 
the excitement waxed intense. 

David Leib also heard the news and of the arrangements 
made for the representatives of the community to go out to 
meet his father. 

So he decided he must speak to his father before anyone 
else, and quietly leaving the town, set off for Ostrovno, where 
he intended to look out for Ms father. 

He had not seen his father during all the eight years he 
had been married, but he recognized his father without dif- 
ficulty. David Leib, however, had changed considerably during 
this time, he had grown older and more manly, and he saw 
that his father did not know him as he went towards him. 

He made up his mind that he would not disclose his 
identity for the present. He therefore greeted Rabbi Zwi Arieh 
very respectfully but with some reserve, as one who had 
come to pay his respects to a distinguished personality. 

They immediately found themselves discussing all sorts 
of matters from the Gemorro and "Rambam," and the Dayan 
was greatly impressed with the depth of learning shown by 
this admirable young man! There seemed something familiar 
about him to the Dayan, yet he could not quite place him. 

He asked David Leib where he came from and what was 
his occupation, to which David Leib replied that he was one 
of the cobblers of Vitebsk. 

Rabbi Zwi Arieh spent all day in Ostrovno, and David 
Leib spent much of it with him. 

When David Leib heard that the Dayan intended to pro- 
ceed on his journey that evening, he begged him to stay in 
Ostrovno overnight as he had something of great importance 
to discuss with him. The Dayan agreed and then David Leib 
turned to him saying: 

"My dear father! I did not want you to be prejudiced 
in my favor whilst we were discussing Torah matters, but now 
you know that I am your son and that I came to tell you the 
real reason why my parents-in4aw have invited you to 



Vitebsk." Father and son embraced each other warmly, whilst 
David Leib continued: 

"They want to tell you that I have brought disgrace upon 
them because I have chosen to make my living by cobbling! 

"But I want you to know that I have come to the con- 
clusion that I can best serve G-d and my fellow-Jews by living 
simply as a cobbler, and that is the path I intend to follow. 
My dear wife is in complete agreement with all I am doing, 
but her parents are disappointed and furious with me and 
cannot see anything but shame in my way of life/ 1 

"My dear son," said the Dayan, "I am proud of ytfur 
courage and determination to follow the path you know to 
be right, even though it will bring you neither wealth nor 
fame. May the Almighty help you in all you do!" 

David Leib asked his father not to let anyone know that 
he was such a "Lamdan," as he would rather they looked 
upon him as just an honest cobbler! 

His father readily promised, and after that they spent 
the rest of the night studying Torah together. 

Early next morning they both went to Shool together to 
davven, and after breakfast, set off together for Vitebsk. 

David Leib only accompanied his father a little way, 
however, for he knew of the "reception committee" which had 
sent out delegates to meet his father and bring Mm into 
Vitebsk with all due ceremony. 

And so they parted for the moment, and David Leib 
followed on later, arriving in Vitebsk soon after Ms father. 

After the official reception of welcome, the Dayan was 
taken to the house of his "Mechutanim," the parents-in-law 
of his son, where all the heads of the community were assem- 
bled to do him honor. 

When the guests had all departed and Rabbi Zwi Arieh 
and his son found themselves alone with his parents-in-law, 
the latter turned to their "Mechutan" and began to pour out 
their troubles and complaints! 

"To think that we should be put to shame by a son of 
yours ! You, who are the famous Dayan of Minsk, can surely 
not approve of your son stooping so low as to become a cob- 



bier! Can you understand our feelings? We are positively 
ashamed to look our friends in the face!" 

"My dear Mechutanim" replied the Dayan mildly, "the 
night is not a time for judgment, let us all retire peacefully 
and leave the discussion for the morning." 

Next morning at the first opportunity, David Leib's 
parents-in-law brought up the matter again. 

"Why are you so disturbed and aggravated that your 
son-in-law should earn his living by the toil of his hands?" 
Rabbi Zwi Arieh asked them. "You know there is no shame in 
honest labor! On the contrary, our sages say: *Love 
work, rather than the Rabbinate/ David Leib is absolutely 
following their teaching! Surely you know that many of our 
Tanaim and Amoraim earned their living by manual labor and 
did not consider it beneath them to become ordinary tailors, 
cobblers, wood-cutters, etc., etc. I cannot see why you are 
making such a fuss about the matter and feeling ashamed. 
In my opinion you ought to be proud of it." 

"We must think about it," replied Chaim, the Mechutan, 
reluctant to give in as yet. "And meanwhile," he continued, 
"David Leib ought to come back and make his home with 
us again. But of course," he added hurriedly, "he will have 
to do his cobbling elsewhere! Somewhere outside the town!" 

Rabbi Zwi Arieh stayed in Vitebsk for about five weeks, 
and his Mechutanim complained no more to him, as they 
realized it was useless. 

During this time he observed how his son carried on his 
cobbling, taking every opportunity of befriending his cus- 
tomers and showing a sympathetic interest in their affairs 
and problems, but always appearing as nothing more than 
an ordinary, kind, honest cobbler. 

Every evening, father and son spent their time in study, 
and David Leib told his father he would like to take advantage 
of this opportunity, to study metaphysics. 

His father gladly agreed, and when he eventually left 
Vitebsk, he felt his visit had been very worth-while indeed, 
and was very happy with his son's conduct and way of life! 

For two years more, David Leib and his family lived at 



the home of his parents-in-law, though insisting he would 
only do so on condition they accepted payment. This they did, 
but still it was far from a happy arrangement. 

They could never hide the fact of their disappointment 
in their son-in-law, so, when one day a customer suggested 
to David Lelb that he come to his home-town Hatinka, near 
Kalishk, where he assured Mm he would make a very com- 
fortable living, the idea rather appealed to him. 

He talked the matter over with his wife and she readily 
agreed with him. She was a devoted wife and mother, thought 
the world of her husband, and all he did seemed perfect In her 


"You know, dear wife," he said, 1 feel that this would be 
an excellent solution to our problems! We could live un- 
hampered, according to our Ideas, and your parents would no 
longer be troubled by our 'undesirable! (as they see it) way 
of living/' 

The plan being approved all round, David Leib took Ms 
wife and family and made their way to Hatinka, a small vil- 
lage of some forty Jewish families. 

The villagers appealed to David Leib very much. They 
seemed to be good, honest people, happy in their simple life 
and ready to do good where they could and be friendly to all 

They gave David Leib and his wife a friendly welcome, 
and when he saw that they were just ordinary people, with 
no pretensions to education, he felt safe. 

There was no one to recognize in him the great scholar 
and Mystic that he was, and he felt a glow of satisfaction 
at the thought that here at last he would be able to live the 
life he yearned for! A life of simplicity and of unobtrusive 
help for his beloved brethren! 

David Leib settled down in Hatinka without difficulty. 
He worked at his last and satisfied all his customers by his 
desire to please them. He charged them the very minimum, 
yet his work was of the best. In addition, he made friends 
with everybody and they appreciated his genuine interest in 
their welfare. 



Thus he lived happily for five years, working by day and 
studying into the night, but no one knew about his secret 
studies. All they saw of his desire to "learn" was when they 
saw him at the "En-Yaakov" Shiur in the Beth-Hamidrash, 
where he sat and listened in no way different from the other 
simple villagers. 

But although David Leib was so careful to hide his own 
identity from others, he on the other hand kept his eyes and 
ears open constantly on the look-out for other Mystics who 
might be passing through the town. It occurred to him that 
there might even be a Mystic in Hatinka itself, who could 
have chosen to settle here for the very same reasons as 
himself! So David Leib kept a watchful eye on everybody, resi- 
dent or visitor, and at the slightest suspicion that he was 
confronting anyone out of the ordinary, he would put some 
leading question and see what was the reaction of the person 
so questioned. 

Very often he would be met with a blank stare as if he 
had asked something incomprehensible. The person would 
scratch his head in seeming bewilderment, saying: "What does 
the fellow want of me? He would do better to ask a scholar!" 

The onlookers would laugh, saying: "Our friend the cob- 
bler has knocked a nail in the wrong place!" But David Leib 
could see better if he had knocked a nail in the right or 
wrong place. . . . 

When he felt that he had really found someone whom 
he believed to be a fellow-Mystic, he pestered him with ques- 
tions until he verified his guess. 

In order that he might more easily have the possibility 
of meeting and recognizing these mystics, he made his house 
a "Guest-House" for wayfarers. He was additionally glad to 
have the opportunity of caring for the comfort and welfare 
of possible Mystics who, being anxious to hide their greatness 
from people, were generally taken to be ordinary travellers 
and granted no special attention or privileges. 

In this way David Leib made the acquaintance of quite 
a number of Mystics, some of whom passed but once through 
Hatinka and to whom David Leib was so happy to act as host. 



Others came again and again, and with these David Leib 
became very friendly and took the opportunity to learn all 
he could of their special methods of approach to their fellow- 
Jews, and of their "way of life" regarding themselves. 

There was the case of one whom everybody called either 
"The Red-headed Cohen" or "The Cheerful Soul/' who used 
to visit Hatinka and was very popular with everyone. 

Everybody took him to be a very ordinary visitor and 
welcomed him because he was such a jolly person, cheer- 
ing everybody with his constant joking. No one suspected that 
he was anything more than he appeared to be, and no one 
even troubled to find out the reason for his coming, or the 
purpose of his staying. 

That is, no one but David Leib. He felt very intrigued to 
find out more about this "Red-headed Cohen" who was always 
so jolly and friendly with everyone, but most of all with 
children. In the Beth-Hamidrash he always gathered around 
him all the little boys, who just worshipped him! And no 
wonder, for he was always giving them sweets, nuts, and ap- 
ples! He always insisted that they make a "Berachah" before 
eating any of these things and all the others would respond 

Then he would tell them such interesting stories about all 
the great men in Jewish history that they just listened open- 
mouthed! He would urge them to learn all they could from 
their "Rebbes" (teachers) and would examine them on what 
they had already learned in Gheder. 

Finally he would sing to them and teach them songs so 
that they could sing with him, and sing they did with a will, 
ending up with a hilarious dance! 

Do you wonder that they all loved their big "red-headed" 
friend who treated them so generously and who played with 
them so delightfully? 

Many of the men criticized him for being so "childish," 
but David Leib felt that here was no ordinary "clown" as 
some called him, but a man with a mission to inspire the 
Jewish children so that they acquire a love for Judaism 



and things Jewish, without noticing that they were being 
taught! That, surely, is the most successful way of teaching! 

David Leib took every opportunity of studying this 
"Cheerful Soul/* followed him where and when he could, and 
when he noticed the way he waxed enthusiastic, his face 
aglow and his eyes sparkling whenever he spoke about Jews 
and Judaism, David Leib felt convinced that he was a per- 
sonality well worth noting! 

Later, David Leib learned more about the "Red-headed 
Cohen." He had been a Melamed in Kalishk for a long time, 
and was well-known for his learning and highly respected 
for his noble character. His name was Rabbi Sender. 

One day Rabbi Sender suddenly made up his mind that he 
had taught long enough in Kalishk and he ought now to 
turn his attention to the Jewish children of the small towns 
and villages who might be in greater need of his teaching. 


By the time David Leib had been three years in Hatinka, 
he had met and managed to recognize and befriend a number 
of mystics during their visits to this village. 

In some cases where he at first believed his guests to 
be Mystics, he felt he had made a mistake when he found 
them associating with the local "idler" of the village, Shmerel 
the son of Nachum Itzik. The latter was a respected man and 
something of a scholar, but it seemed such a pity for him to 
be cursed with such a "ne'er-do-well" of a son! 

Shmerel had three nick-names in the village. He was 
either called "Shmerel the Idler," "Shmerel the Star-gazer," 
or "Shmerel the Yawner." 

The first name he earned by the fact of his spending 
much time chatting to the women and children of the village, 
who loved listening to his stories. 

The reason for the second nick-name was his constantly 
staring at the sky! At night he gazed at the moon and stars, 
and during the day he would watch the cloudy as they rolled 



along, constantly changing their shapes; now they looked 
like monstrous animals, now like human beings. 

People used to hear him muttering as he gazed up into 
the sky, be it day or night. They thought it very funny when 
he used to murmur as he looked : 

"How like the clouds are people, who, like them, are con- 
stantly changing! If at first they appear to be animals, they 
can by their own good efforts turn themselves into worthy 
human beings. If on the other hand they act unworth- 
ily, they turn themselves from decent human beings into 
animals. . . ." 

Shmerel always lectured people, telling them they ought 
never to curse or envy others their better fortune. People 
generally tolerated him, but few took him very seriously. 

The third nick-name by which Shmerel was known was 
"Shmerel the Yawner," because he was constantly yawning, 
and his yawns were unlike anyone else's. One knew of his 
approach before he was even seen on account of the peculiar 
manner of his yawning! His yawn would begin normally 
enough, but then it would extend into such a big and long 
yawn, ending with such an ear-piercing roar, that it could 
startle one out of his wits ! 

The only time Shmerel did not yawn was when he got 
"warmed-up" in his lecturing people. But then the children 
felt something was missing and would urge him: 

"Oh please, Shmerel, do yawn!" He was never insulted 
at this request, but would smile at them benevolently as if 
flattered that they should turn to him for amusement. Quite 
natural on their part! 

Imagine then how disappointed and resentful David Leib 
felt when he found that the "Red-headed Cohen," whom he 
had so admired and whose friendship he had been seeking 
to cultivate, was associating so freely with this Shmerel! 

David Leib tried to discover what these people, whom 
he had at first suspected of being Mystics, could see in 
Shmerel, so he too tried to learn what he could of him. 

Yet for some time he could not learn very much about 



All he learned was that Shmerel was married and lived 
in a tumble-down cottage which had a thatched roof, so dilapi- 
dated, that on rainy days the place was absolutely flooded. 

They had two sons whom ShmerePs wife had sent to a 
distant town to learn a trade, and were it not for her, they 
would all have starved. For by her wool-weaving she made 
enough money to send for her sons' support, as well as to 
cover the household expenses for her husband and self. 

Prom this information about Shmerel, David Leib could 
be forgiven for thinking that the former was not much of a 
personality and that anyone who found Mm worth associa- 
ting with could not be much better. 

Then once something occurred which made him change 
his opinion completely -about this man. 

A fire broke out in the village of Hatinka, destroying 
many homes including that of David Leib who now had per- 
force to look for another house. 

The street where Shmerel lived was unaffected by the 
fire, and David Leib rented a house nearby. So whether he 
willed it or not, he became a neighbor of ShmereFs and saw 
rather more of him than before. 

Thus it came about that one night, when David Leib was 
returning home rather late, he passed by ShmereFs house and 
was arrested by a most unexpected sound! 

The reason David Leib was so late was because he had 
stayed behind to study at the Beth-Hamidrash after the oth- 
ers had left. So that the others should not guess the real 
reason for his staying behind, he pretended to linger on be- 
cause it was so much warmer and quieter in the Beth- 
Hamidrash than at home. 

And now as he was on his way home, he heard sounds 
as of someone pouring out his soul in fervent prayer! Were 
his eyes and ears deceiving him or was it really ShmereFs 
house from which these soul-stirring sounds were emanating? 

David Leib stopped and listened spell-bound! He peeped 
in through the window and could hardly believe the evidence 



of his own eyes! For it was indeed Shmerel, but it was not 
the Shmerel he knew. 

Shmerel was davvening "Maariv" as only a great "Tzad- 
ik" could davven. 

David Leib had seen Shmerel at the Beth-Hamidrash that 
very evening at "Maariv" and had observed him hardly mov- 
ing his lips. He thought, as did the other villagers, that 
Shmerel could not read properly and therefore was merely 
trying to follow the other worshippers as best as he could. 

And now, here was Shmerel, a transfigured Shmerel, pour- 
ing out his soul to the Almighty. David Leib was held fixed to 
the spot; he just could not tear himself away! 

He stood there for about an hour until he was nearly 
frozen. And when he finally continued his way thoughtfully 
towards home, the moving tones of ShmereFs prayer still 
echoed in his ears. 

Now that David Leib made this remarkable and astonish- 
ing discovery about Shmerel, he watched him closely, and with 
different eyes. 

He often crept up to his window, late at night, again to 
listen to his heart-stirring tones as he davvened Maariv, or 
learned Torah to the accompaniment of his own sweet 

David Leib positively "shadowed" Shmerel, anxious for 
an opportunity of getting Shmerel to reveal himself to him. 
He of ten found him in the company of the women and children 
of the village, telling them stories to which they listened 
with much interest. 

They were mostly stories about the Matriarchs, Sarah, 
Rebeckah, Rachel and Leah, relating how splendid they all 
were and what a wonderful example of piety and loyalty they 
presented. He also told of the greatness of other Jewish wo- 
men in history, and it was obvious that he meant to inspire 
his women-listeners with the desire to attain a higher level 
of character and way of life. 



Most of all was David Leib impressed to discover how 
much time Shmerel devoted to the poor women when they lay 
in child-birth or were otherwise bed-fast. 

Their husbands could not afford to stay at home or even 
to pay anyone to nurse them. To these Shmerel made his way, 
making himself at home, looking after the sick mothers and 
their little ones, chopping wood, making fires, cooking meals, 
or just keeping the invalids company and amusing the 

He always made it seem that as he had nothing else 
to do, he might as well make himself a little useful. 

David Leib now realized the real reason for ShmereFs 
"idleness 1 '.! It was of course so that he should be available 
for every such emergency, and free to serve the poor and 
sick in their time of need. 

David Leib was determined to get Shmerel to reveal his 
true identity to him, but he did not know how to go about it. 

One day when he found him alone he bent forward and 
whispered in his ear: 

"You know, I think you are doing a wonderful job. So 
much more can be achieved in disguise. . . ." 

He thought that Shmerel would take the hint and talk 
freely with him. 

Instead of which Shmerel shrugged his shoulders and 
gave him a blank look as if to say: "Whatever is the man talk- 
ing about?" 

When David Leib realized that Shmerel refused to re- 
spond to his overtures, he became very down-hearted. He had 
no doubt now that Shmerel was a great personality and if 
the latter refused to become friends with him, it could only 
mean that Shmerel did not consider him worthy of his 

David Leib began to davven with even greater fervor 
than before, and prayed to the Almighty to give Shmerel a 
desire to confide in him, as he felt the need of Shmerel's 
friendship and teaching. 



David Leib had made no progress with Shmerel when 
suddenly the "Red-headed Cohen" again appeared in Hatinka, 

He and Shmerel as always were often seen together, and 
once David Leib watched them go off together into the forest 
and return after an absence of several hours! 

He felt he must get them to admit to him their true iden- 
tities, so when he saw them leaving the town on the next oc- 
casion, he followed them. When he caught up with them he 
burst out somewhat breathlessly: 

"I must talk to you on a very important matter! Please 
let me accompany you!" 

Shmerel and the "Read-headed Cohen" looked at each 
other surprised, wondering what the cobbler could possibly 
want of them. But they nodded to David Leib and said: 

"If you think we can help you in any way, why, of course, 
you can come with us." 

They had by now left* the town behind them and David 
Leib turned to them with tears in his eyes and said to them 
pleadingly : 

"I know for certain that you are both Mystics and 
Tzadikim and I beg of you to teach me of your hidden ways. 
I, too, have only been using my cobbling as a blind and have 
pledged myself to serve the Almighty and my fellow-Jews 
in the best way I know, but I feel there is so much that I have 
yet to learn and I know that you, if you will, can teach me! 
Please do not refuse me!" 

David Leib broke down with emotion and there was 
no doubt in the minds of Shmerel and the "Red-headed 
Cohen" of his sincerity. 

They decided to confide in David Leib, but made him 
promise not to disclose to anybody that they were anything 
but the plain people they wished to appear. 

David Leib was so thrilled to think that at last these 
two great men had found him worthy of their confidence! 

The three returned to the village together and no one, 
looking at them would have guessed that anything untoward 
had passed between them. 



Everything In Hatinka proceeded as hitherto. David 
Leib carried on with his cobbling, Shmerel continued to gaze 
at the sky and yawn, and the "Red-headed Cohen" went on 
with his joking and playing with the children, and when he 
left, no one bothered to wonder where he had gone to. 

Meanwhile a strong friendship sprang up between David 
Leib and Shmerel. 

For a whole year they used to meet in secrecy and study 
together Cabbalah. Shmerel became David Leib's teacher 
not only as regards study, but also as to the manner in which 
he should conduct himself in his daily life. 

David Leib was a willing pupil and felt a great happiness 
and satisfaction in that Shmerel should find him worthy of 
his confidence and attention. 

David Leib now had the opportunity of meeting all these 
other Mystics who came to Hatinka for the special purpose 
of visiting Shmerel. 

They used to come singly, or in twos or threes, but in- 
variably they all came to Shmerel, where they spent their 
time secretly in Torah-study and in prayer. 

Whenever the "Red-headed Cohen" came to Hatinka, he 
joined this secret circle, and David Leib felt that he belonged 
to a world of which till then he had only dreamed. 


David Leib did not remain in Hatinka very long. 

When David Leib's son Abraham Yitzchak was nine years 
old, his father felt it was time he attended a Yeshivah, so 
he decided that the family might as well move with him. 
So they all removed to the town of Kalishk where there was 
a large Yeshivah with a Rabbi Naftali at its head. 

Abraham Yitzchak attended this Yeshivah for two years 
and at the same time was also taught by his father "Mussar" 
(Ethics), in addition to Gemorro. Abraham Yitzchak was 
greatly influenced by these studies of Ethics as also by the 
personality of his father the mystic. 



Abraham Yitzchak was very much impressed by his 
father's secret care of the poor and needy. Whenever he 
noticed a child with worn out shoes or running about bare- 
foot, David Leib always found out their names and addresses 
and then would set about making a pair of shoes which he 
would send at night with Abraham Yitzchak so that no one 
should see who it was that left the parcel at the door! 

David Leib particularly took an interest in widows and 
orphans, and although he was not a rich man, he always 
managed to send along some foodstuff to these poor souls. 

He took an interest in all who seemed "down on their 
luck" in Kalishk, but he always gave his help in as unobtru- 
sive a manner as possible, and were it not for the fact that 
he felt it would teach his son to be sympathetic and under- 
standing towards the needy, David Leib would not have let 
Abraham Yitzchak into his secret either. 

Thus it was that no one knew of David Leib's greatness 
and nobility of soul. It hurt Abraham Yitzchak so much 
when he himself was praised for his outstanding knowledge 
and at the same time pitied for being the son of an "ordinary" 

He felt like crying out: "My father is no ordinary cob- 
bler but a great man, a Mystic. I only wish I could one day 
attain his high level !" 

But of course Abraham Yitzchak had promised his father 
to keep silent about his being a Mystic, and so he had to 
keep his word; but how galling it was that people so under- 
rated his father's great worth! 

After spending nine years at Rabbi Naftali's Yeshivah 
in Kalishk, David Leib sent his son to Smargon to attend the 
Yeshivah there, one of the greatest in existence at that time. 

Abraham Yitzchak remained there for three years and 
when at the end of that time he left, he came home laden with 
Rabbinical titles and Diplomas of Merit certifying to his ex- 
tensive knowledge and excellent character. 

His father, too, had not been idle during this time and 
had in fact become one of the leading figures amongst the 



Mystics, and when those of them who spent their time wan* 
dering from town to town on their secret missions, arrived 
in Kalishk, they invariably were the guests of David Leib. 

Now that Abraham Yitzchak had come home from the 
Yeshivah as a Rabbi, David Leib felt it was time he settled 
down. So he talked it over with his friends the Mystics, 
and thus it came about that his two friends Rabbi Sender 
(the "Red-headed Cohen") and Rabbi Zalman Chayim, (the 
one-time Shamash of the Shool in the market-place of Jano- 
vitch) , turned "Match-makers" and introduced Abraham Yitz- 
chak to the daughter of Mordecai the Miller and, as we already 
know, he married her and went to live in Janovitch. 

When Rabbi Zalman Chayim left Janovitch, Abraham 
Yitzchak tried to take his place by seeing to all the former 
matters that Rabbi Zalman Chayim had attended to. 

No one knew of the connection between the two men, but 
everybody saw that Abraham Yitzchak was following in the 
steps of Zalman Chayim. For he showed the same in- 
terest in the ordinary folks of Janovitch and the surrounding 
villages, and whenever he could, he would gather these people 
around him in the market-place and tell them fascinating 
stories from the Talmud and Midrash. He spoke to them in 
simple language so that they would have no difficulty in 
understanding him, and they flocked to hear him. 

Before Zalman Chayim arranged to leave Janovitch, he 
left his role of Shamash to one by the name of Joseph Moshe. 
No one seemed to know where he had come from, but the old 
recluse Leib who used to sleep in the Beth-Hamidrash later 
related that no sooner had Joseph Moshe come to Janovitch, 
than Zalman Chayim made preparations to hand over his "pro- 
fession" to him and depart. "" 

The old recluse also related how, for a whole year, Zal- 
man Chayim had been a very close friend of another recluse 
by the name of Zundel Wolf, and that they met constantly in 
secret and studied together. 

No one had any idea what it was that they studied to- 
gether so secretly, but as soon as Zalman Chayim made it 



known that he was leaving Janovitch, this Zundel Wolf an- 
nounced that he, too, was leaving at the same time. 

They said something about both going to a far distant 
town where there lived a great scholar who was surrounded 
by a vast number of "disciples," and where they, too, hoped 
to learn Torah. 

Now that Baruch had learned all this of Abraham Yitz- 
chak's past, he saw more clearly the sort of man that Rabbi 
Zalman Chayim was, whom he had so wanted to meet in Jano- 
vitch once more, but who had already left the town by the 
time Baruch reached it. 

Baruch felt that he, too, had nothing more to do in Jano- 
vitch, particularly as he wanted to visit some of the other 
towns and townlets where he had spent his youth. 

He felt he would especially like to revisit Dobromysl, and 
so, packing his few belongings together, he set off for this 
very town. 



Tfce Innkeeper wAo wos a Disciple of the 

Yeshtvah Student wli Turns fnvenfor. -TJie CAassfcflc 

low of fhe Smith of DoJbromysf. BarircA teams More 

the Soal-Siera-T@'s Teachings. 


It was just before Pesach and the sun had melted the 
snow, turning the road into a veritable bog. Baruch soon be- 
came tired as he trudged thoughtfully along. 

-He reached a small wood, and spied a fallen tree by the 
side of the path and sat down to rest. 

He had not been sitting very long when he heard the 
sound of a horse and cart approaching. The driver was a 
Christian peasant who hailed Baruch and Invited him to step 
into his cart for a lift. He said there was a Jew living in 
the village of Yutina not very far along the road, and Baruch 
would be able to spend the night thpre. The peasant said he 
was going as far as Zavkina, but could drop Baruch at the 
cross-roads from which it was but a short distance to Yutina. 

Baruch asked the peasant how much he would charge 
him for the lift, to which the peasant replied: 

"I never charge for such trifles. There's a Rabbi living 
near me who says we should all help each other irrespective 
of any difference in our religions. He is a great man and 
everyone respects him; we do what he tells us. That is why 
I won't charge you now." 



"But I never accept any service for nothing/' said 
Banich. "You must take some payment from me, otherwise 
I cannot come in your cart." 

The peasant argued no more and Baruch got into the 
cart and was put down at the cross-roads as agreed. Bamch 
paid him off and f61t better. 

As Baruch slowly continued on his way in the direction 
that the peasant had indicated, a young man came running 
towards him and greeted Mm saying: 

"Would you please come to our house? My father-in-law 
has asked me to intercept all who are passing along this way, 
to warn them that they cannot proceed beyond our house 
(which is an Inn) as the whole area is flooded. The bridge 
has been carried away by the flood, and unfortunately several 
peasants with their horses and loaded wagons who were on 
the bridge at the time were all lost. You see, you cannot do 
anything but take refuge with us, and I assure you, you are 
very welcome!" 

Baruch was Happy to accept the invitation, particularly 
as he saw at once that his companion was a learned young 
man. They immediately found themselves in harmony with 
each other and discussing Torah topics. 

Baruch learned that the young man's name was Nathan 
Shlomoh; that he was the son-in-law of the Innkeeper, whose 
name was Nachman Israel, a man of about fifty. 

Nathan Shlomoh also told Baruch how his father-in-law 
came to establish the settlement there. Baruch was very 

Nachman Israel had spent his youth studying at the 
most famous Yeshivoth of the time, and earned the praise 
of all his teachers. 

He married the daughter of a well-to-do man in Zlobin, 
and their livelihood was provided for by him for twenty years, 
so that the young man was free to continue with his Torah- 

Nachman Israel became acquainted with a wandering 
Mystic named Rabbi Azriel Yaakov. 



One day they both disappeared together, without saying 
where they were going to, neither did they disclose the des- 
tination or purpose of their trip on their return, 

Later it transpired that Rabbi Azriel Yaakov was a dis- 
ciple of the saintly Baal-Shem-Tov and it was to him that he 
took his friend Nachman Israel. 

It was possibly the first time Baruch had heard the name 
"Baal-Shem-Tov/' and that he was teaching Jews a new way 
of life, with the help of his disciples. They were the Mystics 
who wandered through town and village, each with his parti- 
cular mission. 

As they had now reached the inn, Nathan Shlomoh prom- 
ised to continue his story later. 

Baruch found a number of visitors at the inn, all ap- 
parently stranded like himself. They were all Torah scholars 
and all made welcome by their host Nachman Israel. 

They had a regular Shiur each evening and as the visitors 
proved to be scholars, they were given the honor of conduct- 
ing the Shiur. Baruch was also invited to give a Talmud dis- 
course, and a lively discussion followed his expert interpreta- 
tion of it. 

They were flood-bound for three days, and during this 
time Baruch became very friendly with the two sons-in-law 
of Nachman Israel, who both lived with their father-in-law 
at the inn. 

They told him that their father-in-law had rented the 
inn and mill, on the advice of the saintly Baal-Shem-Tov whom 
he had visited together with Rabbi Azriel Yaakov. 

Nachman Israel had also persuaded some more young 
men to come along with him; to these he rented the fishing 
pool, and all together they managed to establish this new 
settlement on the estate of a nobleman. They built a Beth- 
Hamidrash, and comprised a small but happy Jewish com- 
munity of several families. 

The venture proved a great success and they all attributed 
this success to the wonderful powers of the Baal-Shem-Tov! 

Baruch got on so well with the two sons-in-law that they 



begged of Mm to stay longer, but being anxious to get to 
Dobromysl as soon as possible, lie asked to be excused. 

As he walked along, looking for the driest spots he could 

find, his mind went back to his few days at the Inn. Everything 
seemed more vivid in retrospect, and he pondered on all lie 
had seen and heard whilst he was there; on the new "way 
of life" adopted by the Innkeeper and his sons-in-law, and 
the difference in their mode of prayer. 

He could not have known at that time that he had been 
in contact with one of the first groups of the Baal-Shem-Tov's 
followers, the first "Chassidim" in these parts. 

Later in Dobromysl, Baruch was to hear more about 
great personality. 


As soon as Baruch reached the town, he made his way 
immediately to the smithy of his old friend Eliezer Reuben, 
with whom he always used to spend Pesach. 

"Shalom Aleichem^ Baruch called out cheerily to Eliezer 
Reuben who was standing in his leather apron at the anvil. 

Turning round and seeing Baruch he gave a shout of de- 

Throwing off his apron and throwing down his hammer* 
he quickly washed his hands and came forward to Baruch 

"It is good to see you, my friend, and I have so much to 
tell you since last year. Let us go outside and sit down on the 

Saying which, he grasped Baruch's arm and led Mm 
outside. They sat down, and the smith continued: 

"Before I tell you about my family I'd like to tell you 
about Abraham Benjamin and how he became a rich man! As 
you know he was such a pauper, hardly able to earn the money 
to support his many dependents. His parents and his parents- 
in-law lived with him in addition to his own fairly large family, 

"You remember, he earned his living by sorting wool by 



hand, which was a slow business, bringing in but little mone- 
tary reward. 

"Despite his poverty, he made the sacrifice of sending his 
eldest son Shlomke to a Yeshivah to study, when he could so 
well have done with letting him work and help to support the 

"Shlomke did so well at the Yeshivah that when he came 
home, he brought many diplomas from his Rabbis testifying 
to the excellent progress he had made and the satisfaction of 
his teachers. 

"But that was not all. Shlomke had brought something 
else home with him. 

"It was a machine ! Or rather, it eventually was a machine ! 

"This is how it came about. The Yeshivah where Shlomke 
learned was in a big town, and one day whilst walking, Shlom- 
ke saw a machine with which wool was sorted and brushed! It 
was a splendid thing, but Shlomke knew that neither he nor 
his father could find the money to buy this wonderful article. 

"He studied it well, made a drawing of it and learned all 
he could about it, determined that he must provide his parents 
with just such a machine so that they need no longer waste 
so much time working by hand. 

"As soon as he got home and received the congratulations 
of the family on his success in his studies, he told them ex- 
citedly about his discovery! They could hardly believe it pos- 
sible that, according to Shlomke, they would soon be able to 
work less and earn more! It seemed incredible! 

"With the help of a joiner and a tinsmith, Shlomke worked 
on his idea for three weeks and to their delight, the machine 
was completed successfully! 

"Shlomke's parents quickly learned to use the machine 
and found that they could accomplish in a day what previ- 
ously took them at least one month to do by hand! It really 
seemed too good to be true! 

"As they got through so much work so quickly, peasants 
from all around heard about it and brought their raw wool 
to Abraham Benjamin to be carded by the wonderful machine! 

"Abraham Benjamin soon found he was becoming a 



wealthy man. The first thing he did with his money was to get 
his two orphaned nieces married and settled. 

"His own son Shlomke he married to another orphan, the 
granddaughter of the Rav of DobromysL 

"He also paid for a new roof for the Sfiool. Abraham 
Benjamin gave a goodly sum also to charity, for he knew so 
well what it meant to be in need!" 

Turning to his own family affairs, the smith went on 
with a twinkle in his eye: 

"I must say that my third son-in-law is going to secure 
for me a share of the 'Shor Habor/ for through my other two 
sons-in-law I am assured of my share of * Leviathan!* " 

The third son-in-law was named Yitzchak Saul. He was 
a fine young man and the smith was indeed very pleased with 
the husband of his youngest daughter, not only because of his 
education, but on account of the goodness of his heart. 

In addition, the smith felt greatly gratified that, in spite 
of his Rabbinical diplomas, Yitchak Saul had announced that 
he wanted to follow his father-in-law's calling, and become 
a smith like him! 

He gladly taught him the trade and Yitzchak Saul took to 
it so readily, that in a very short time he was able to procure 
for him a smithy in a village some miles away, where he and 
his wife were soon to settle down. 

"At the moment, Yitzchak Saul is away at the house of 
the Duke whose carriage was brought to us for repair. And 
what a carriage! You ought to see it when the Duke goes 
riding in it harnessed to six horses! It was quite a big repair 
job we had to do, and Yitzchak Saul has just taken it back 
after we spent three days getting it in order again. The Duke 
is so proud of this carriage, which he bought from abroad/' 

Suddenly a piercing scream came from the smithy, and 
both Eliezer Reuben and Baruch rushed inside to see what was 
the matter. 

They found a terrified peasant near the anvil with smoke 
from his smouldering clothes enveloping him all around. 

They quickly threw a rug around him, putting out the 



flames, applied something to relieve Ms bums and finally 
calmed the poor man. 

As they were thus occupied, a tall, handsome young man 
walked in, looking surprised at the scene before Mm. He 
placed a bag in front of the smith, saying: 

"Here is the money for the repair of the duke's carriage. 
What has happened here?" 

"Let me introduce you to my dear friend Raruch," said 
the smith, proudly presenting his youngest son-in-law to his 
friend. The two young men looked at each other approvingly 
as they shook hands. 

"This poor peasant was set on fire by a spark," explained 
the smith in answer to his previous question. 

"In that case," quickly put in Yitzchak Saul, "the Mish- 
nah tells us that If a spark shoots forth from under the ham- 
mer and causes damage, we are liable!' " 

Yitzchak Saul then proceeded to expound at length the 
view and legal decision of the Rambam on this point of law. 

Baruch saw that Yitzchak Saul was a learned young man 
as well as of fine character and handsome, and altogether 
he felt very attracted to him and interested to learn all about 
his past history. 

Baruch discovered that he had for the first time come in 
direct contact with one who called himself a "Chassid," a 
follower of the Baal-Shem-Tov. 

For so Yitzchak Saul introduced himself to Baruch. 

He told him that he came from Harki, where his father 
Rabbi Nissan was a Melamed. 

But he was unlike other Melamdim in that his pupils 
were young men who were already advanced students showing 
an especial aptitude for learning. 

Rabbi Nissan himself was a pupil of the "Maggid of 
Harki" Rabbi Azriel Joseph, who was an ardent follower and 
disciple of the Baal-Shem-Tov. 

Rabbi Azriel had formed a group of chosen young men 
to whom he expounded the new teachings of the Baal-Shem- 
Tov and whom he trained in that spirit. 

Rabbi Nissan became one of the leaders of this group, 



and during the various absences of Rabbi Azriel Joseph, Rabbi 
Nissan took over the role of "Head" in his place. 

So it was that Yitzchak Saul was brought up in this Chas- 
sidic atmosphere and knew so much about the great founder 
of Chassidism, the Baal-Shem-Tov. 

Baruch was fascinated as Yitzchak Saul told Mm more 
and more about this new "way of life" 

He saw that in Yitzchak Saul he had a living example of 
the type of Jew the Baai-Shem-Tov was striving to produce, 
a true Torah-loving Jew with a love for his fellow-beings. 


Baruch had also met the other two sons-in-law of Eliezer 
Reuben, the older one Rabbi Zalman Meir, and the younger 
one Rabbi Moshe Leib. 

He was greatly impressed by their extensive learning, 
but when he studied the three sons-in-law as they sat together 
in the smith's house during Pesach, he could not help observ- 
ing the marked differences between the cheerfulness of the 
Chassid Yitzchak Saul, and the earnestness of his brothers- 
in-law, the "Misnagdim." 

When they discussed the Gemorro they did so very se- 
riously, always seeking to find the "din." Whereas Yitzchak 
Saul always seemed to find room for a bon mot in the middle 
of the discussion, bringing a feeling of cheerfulness into it, 
and his object was always to find the "fairest" solution to a 
problem. He often managed to find a practical message even 
in the abstract Talmudic discourses. 

Whilst they were all admirable in their way, Baruch 
found that Yitzchak SauFs method of approach, and "way of 
life" in general, appealed to him most. 

In his excursions into the woods and the fields which he 
loved so much, Baruch spent his time in serious reflection, 
pondering on the mystery of life and on the purpose of G-d's 
creation, and especially in so far as it affected the greatest of 
G-d*s creatures, Man. 

Baruch reflected that in providing Man with his necessi- 



ties, the Almighty has made some things more easily obtain- 
able than others. The greater the need, the easier the effort. 

Man's first necessity was air. This could be had by all 
without difficulty, it was all around one. 

The second need for man's existence was water. This 
too could be found with more or less effort. 

But the third requirement to keep one alive and which 
gave most trouble was that of bread. 

Because of the sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden of 
Eden, Man was cursed: 

"By the sweat of thy brow shalt thou eat bread.** And 
ever since, Man has had to struggle to obtain the necessities 
of life. 

But what of Man's soul? So far we have spoken of the 
needs of the body. 

Baruch felt that his faith and the customs and precepts 
he had absorbed in his youth, which found expression in Ms 
religious observances requiring almost no effort, were like 
air to his soul. Torah-study he compared to the water for 
his soul, into which he dived joyfully to its very depths. 
But what was the ultimate purpose of it all? 

How could he best serve the Creator and briitg good to 
His children? 

Baruch, who was so eager to discover the true "way of 
life/' realized it was no easy matter. 

Baruch took advantage of his friendship with Yitzchak 
Saul to discuss with him this problem, the solution of which 
meant so much to him in helping him choose the path which 
would serve as his guiding line in life. 

Yitzchak told him that his father always bade him follow 
the advice of the Baal-Shem-Tov, who explained to Ms Chas* 
sidic disciples this text; 

"He who would be wise should learn from everybody. For 
it is said : ' I have become wise because of all those who taught 
me/ " 

The Baal-Shem-Tov used to ask his listeners : "Now is it 
really possible that everyone is fit to be a teacher, and that 
we can learn something good from all?" 



The Baal-Shem-Tov answered this question by giving 
this illustration: 

"It is written that 'the light of G-d is the soul of Man/ 
Now where there is light, there is also a shadow. Light can 
be compared to the soul, and the shadow to the body. 

"When we find ourselves in the presence of a righteous 
man, we feel that the influence emanating from him is like 
a spark of light from his soul ? electrifying us with the desire 
to do good deeds. 

"We are also influenced when coming into contact with 
a sinful man, but he, on the other hand, brings out the worst in 
us, giving us bad thoughts and ideas leading to wickedness. 

"In other words, we learn from the righteous man to fol- 
low the precept: 'Do good/ whilst from the sinful man we 
take the lesson : 'Turn away from eviU 

"So you see it is quite correct to say: 'He who would be 
wise, should learn from everybody/ 

"There is purpose in all that G-d has created, so that 
Man may learn the best from everything and everyone/' 

The Baal-Shem-Tov continued: "There is a Biblical saying 
that 'We have learnt something from the animals/ upon which 
Rabbi Jochanan remarks that even if the Torah had not been 
given to the Jew, we could learn cleanliness from a cat, and 
industry from an ant." 

Baruch felt lie could listen without end to all that Yitz- 
chak Saul was telling him, which impressed him very deeply. 

But Yitzchak Saul was called away, and Baruch was left 
musing over the thoughts and ideas he had just heard, and 
looking forward to the next talk he would have with Ms new 
friend Yitzchak Saul. 

When Baruch, as a lad, had worked for Eliezer Reuben, 
he found a spot to which he could retire whenever he felt like 
being alone with his thoughts. 

This "corner" of his was a little hill behind the smithy, 
hidden by trees and overlooking a small river flowing below. 

Here Baruch would sit on a fallen tree-trunk, isolated 



from the world, surrounded by the beauty of nature, and 
dream his dreams. 

During Ms subsequent visits to the smithy, whenever he 
felt the need for solitude, he would come to his favorite re- 

Now, after his talk with Yitzchak Saul, he again made his 
way to the hill-top, for he felt there was much to think about. 

He admired Yitzchak Saul so much not only for his Chas- 
sidism, but because, though only four years his senior, he 
already was mature in his thoughts and lived according to his 

Whereas he, Baruch, was still searching for the "way of 
life" which would satisfy his hungry soul! 

Baruch remembered how Yitzchak Saul helped his father- 
in-law with the "Erev-Pesach" preparations as well as with 
his work in the smithy, both working so harmoniously to- 
gether, with an occasional quotation from the Torah by 
the son-in-law, or with a joke or a laugh thrown in by 
either. Baruch turned his thoughts to the other two sons-in- 
law who had come to spend Pesach at the home of their father- 
in-law. He had asked to be told their history, feeling it would 
give him an insight into their personal characters, and per- 
haps shed some light on their Rabbis and teachers and the 
school of thought they represented. 

The elder son-in-law, who was now a "Rosh- Yeshivah" 
(dean) in Byeshenkovitch, had studied at the Yeshivah at the 
other side (known as the "small side") of Vitebsk, firstly un- 
der Rabbi Israel Isaac of Vilkomir, and later under the direc- 
tion of Rabbi Paltiel. 

The second son-in-law, who was at present a "Rosh- Yeshi- 
vah" in Dubrovno, had studied at a Yeshivah, also in Vitebsk, 
known as "Nechamah, Nachum TeveFs Yeshivah," or "Necha- 
mah Deborah's Yeshivah." 

It was strange indeed to find a Yeshivah bearing the name 
of a woman, and how it came about forms a most interesting 
chapter in the history of the Jews of Vitebsk. 



First Jewish Settlers of Vitebsk 

T&e Swedish Prince wli was cr Jew. Jrjtpsifsfoe of Vlfebsfc 
Jews Overfed. Founders of flte lf'eib$J8: Cojnmifiiifyw Mfnsfc 
o Ceitfer of Tomlt. 


Vitebsk, which later became a great center for Jews, 
had until the year 5311 (1551) but a handful of Jewish people 
who were impoverished both materially and spiritually. 

Vitebsk was known as a business center, which was in 
the main in the hands of non-Jews. Vitebsk was situated in a 
fertile region, producing grain and all kinds of fruits. 

In the year 5311 (1551) a small number of Jewish mer- 
chants came to Vitebsk to settle there. The Government of 
the time put all sorts of difficulties and restrictions in their 
way, and a very limited number indeed was permitted to 

In 5365 a Jew named Tevel settled in Vitebsk. He 
brought a new spirit into the place. He had a son named 
Nachum, his daughter-in-law was named Deborah, and their 
daughter, his grand-daughter, was called Nechamah. 

They were all very pious and loved the Torah with all 
the fire of their being, and so they immediately established a 
Yeshivah in Vitebsk and the Yeshivah was called in their 

But this does not tell the whole story, so let us hear more 



about Tevel and Ms remarkable family, at the same time learn- 
ing of a most exceptional chapter in Jewish history. 

In the year 5330 (1570) a Jew named Nachum came 
to Sebezsh from Prague. Sebezsh was situated at a place 
which at that time was the border between Poland and Sweden, 
and which was part of the estate belonging to Count Bontch 
Zinkevitch, a Polish nobleman. 

Count Zinkevitch showed himself very kindly disposed 
towards the Jews of Sebezsh (who were steadily increasing 
in number), and particularly to this family from Prague. 

In the course of the next few years, the Count planned 
to transfer his cjomicile to his estates near Cracow and was 
anxious therefore to sell his estates near Sebezsh, with all the 
adjoining villages, altogether comprising some 600 souls. 

He approached Nachum, who was by now the leader of 
the Jewish community in Sebezsh, inviting his help in finding 
him a customer. 

The adjoining estates on the Swedish side of the border 
belonged to a Swedish Prince named Johann Cambari, who 
often visited his estates and stayed for long periods at a time. 
It occurred to Nachum that here was a likely client for the 
estates of the Polish Count And so, the next time the Prince 
paid a visit to his estates on the other side of the border, 
Nachum arranged to call on him at the castle. 

Prince Cambari received Nachum in a friendly manner 
and chatted with him on all sorts of subjects, but would not 
discuss the question of the purchase immediately. 

He suggested that Nachum see him again about the mat- 
ter in two or three weeks' time. After a few weeks had elapsed, 
Nachum called again on the Prince as suggested. The Prince 
received him this time in a friendlier spirit even than the first 
time. He provided Nachum with a special room for his private 
use, and he was given every comfort and shown every con- 

The Prince made an appointment to discuss the question 
of the purchase with Nachum on the day he came, and yet 
when they met, the Prince seemed in no particular hurry to 
talk about it. Instead he plied Nachum with questions about 



Jews, of whom he knew very little, he said. But he certainly 
showed a great interest in them now, and seemed anxious to 
make up for his ignorance in the past. 

Nachuin had practically to relate everything from the 
time of Abraham, and the Prince listened with great attention, 

"You really will have to spend a few days with me at the 
castle/ 3 said the Prince to Nachum, "there is so much that I 
want to ask you! But I don't want your family to be anxious 
at your lengthy absence, so would you send word home that 
you are staying here and that you are well and comfortable?'* 

"Very well/' agreed Nachum, "I shall be glad to do all I 
can to help you." Nachum had never before met a non-Jew 
with such a genuine interest in Jews and their history. So, 
not only did Nachum send word home that he would be de- 
layed, but also asked that they send him some food, as he 
would not, of course, eat the food provided at the castle, and 
he had only brought enough food for a day, not expecting 
there would be any necessity to stay longer than that. 

His assistant Shalom, foreseeing the possibility that 
Nachum would have to spend Shabbos at the castle, brought, 
in addition to the food, Nachum's "Shabbos clothes," includ- 
ing his Tallis with the golden "Atharah" (crown) . 

He also brought Nachum's miniature "Sefer Torah" in 
it's tiny "Ark" which Nachum always kept at home and treas- 
ured very much. 

Nachum's ancestors were amongst the Jews who had been 
driven out of Spain during the Inquisition, and the miniature 
Sef er-Torah and Ark had belonged to them. So it was handed 
down through the generations, from his great-grand-father 
to him. 

The Sefer-Torah was in a beautiful silver case, and the 
Ark was made of wood which was most artistically carved. 

Nachum was very pleased that his servant had brought 
him these treasures of his, together with his Shabbos clothes 
and food. For now he would really be able to enjoy Shabbos 
just as if he were at home, especially as he had been given a 
private suite of rooms for his use. 

When Shabbos came, Nachum dressed himself in Ms 



Shabbos clothes with Ms "Streimel" on his head. The follow- 
ing morning he put on his Tallis with the golden "Atharah" 
which completely wrapped him around. 

During Shabbos afternoon, a messenger came from the 
Prince inviting Nachum to visit him. 

Nachum, dressed in all his fine Shabbos clothes, went 

When Nachum entered the room, the Prince arose and 
greeted him with great respect. Nachum sensed something 
was troubling the Prince, whose face looked sad, and there 
was a hint of tears in his eyes. 

Nachum wondered if the Prince would reveal the cause 
of his sorrow, but the Prince did not speak about himself. He 
just kept on asking Nachum endless questions about Shabbos, 
its purpose, customs, and what it meant to the Jews. 

Again and again he came back to the subject of the Jews. 
He couldn't seem to get to know enough quickly enough. Na- 
chum was sure there was some special reason behind all this 
unusual interest and questioning about Jews on the part of 
a non-Jew! 

Soon everything was made clear to him for, whilst they 
were talking, an elderly lady entered the room with great dig- 
nity. One could immediately recognize by her stately bearing 
that she belonged to the aristocracy. 

"This is my aunt, my mother's sister," said the Prince 
to Nachum. 

And turning to his aunt, he introduced Nachum, saying : 

"And this gentleman, dear aunt, is the friend I told you 
about, whose acquaintance we are so fortunate to have made!" 

When the aunt showed the same keen interest in learning 
all about Jews, exactly as the Prince had done, Nachum real- 
ized there was indeed special significance in their questioning. 

He did not remark upon this though, as he felt they would 
take him into their confidence as soon as they found the time 

During the whole conversation, Nachum saw a look oi 
indecision in the eyes of the old lady, as if she could not quite 
make up her mind whether or not to tell him their secret, 



but Nachum did not show lie noticed anything unusual in her 

The following Monday, Nachum was again called to the 
Prince and when he entered the Prince's chamber, his aunt 
was again present. They both greeted him as if he were an 
old friend! 

It was clear that they intended to speak to him freely 
and take him into their confidence. 

This is the story they unfolded to Nachum who listened 
in wonder and with great interest. 


Amongst the Jews who were driven out of Spain there 
was a wealthy man named Joseph Gabrieli He had two 
daughters whom he married to wealthy suitors. 

After their exile, they wandered from one country to an- 
other and during a plague the husband of the elder daughter 
died. She then went to live with her sister who had just given 
birth to a son and who was named Judah. A year later Ju- 
dah's father also died and this, together with the reduced cir- 
cumstances in which they now found themselves, caused the 
early death of the child's mother. 

Just before she died, she made her sister promise that 
when her son Judah would grow to manhood, she would ex- 
plain his Jewish origin to him and try to induce him to re- 
turn to Judaism. 

The aunt who had taken the child into her care had mar- 
ried a Swedish nobleman who told her that secretly he too 
was a Jew. He took his bride and Judah to his people in 
Sweden. They changed Judah's name to Johann and he was 
brought up as a prince of royal blood, like a true Cambari. 

"Two years ago my husband died/' concluded Prince Jo- 
hann's aunt, "and I then revealed to Johann that he was Judah, 
the grandson of Joseph Gabrieli, who was my father as well as 
his mother's. He has seen his grandfather's photograph and 
knows we are Jews." 

"Yes, we have both decided we would like to return to 



the faith we belong to, but you can understand our difficulties," 
broke in the Prince. 

"We have so much to learn and we need someone like you 
to befriend us and show us the way back!" concluded the 
Prince pleadingly. 

Nachum was deeply moved by the narrative and by the 
sincerity shown both by the Prince and his aged aunt. 

"I am greatly honored by your confidence in me/* said 
Nachum to them. "But I must ask you to give me a few days 
in which to consider the matter and see what is the best thing 
to do." 

"We know we can trust you to do your best, we have 
complete faith in you/' replied the Prince. "We shall be wait- 
ing to hear from you most eagerly!" 

With that they parted, and after a few days, Nachum re- 
turned to them and told them he had thought of a plan. 

He said that he was putting the affairs of the community 
in Sebezsh, of which he was the leader, in order, so that he 
should be free within the next month or two to go away. 

He suggested that the Prince and his aunt should go to 
Prague, and he too would come there and do all that was neces- 
sary to help them become Jews once again. He recommended 
to them to keep the whole matter a secret for the present. 

They told Nachum they wholeheartedly approved of his 
plan and suggestion, and that they trusted him implicitly. He 
must just tell them what to do, and they would carry out his 

"About that matter of the purchase of the estates," said 
the Prince, "I shall hand over to you the power to negotiate 
it, and of course I shall be happy to pay you for your trouble. 
I feel fortunate to have such a trustworthy agent to act for 

Nachum departed on the best of terms with his grateful 
hosts, and they, too, returned to their home in Sweden to wind 
up their affairs there and make all due preparations for mov- 
ing to Prague. 

Meanwhile Nachum returned home and called upon the 



Polish Count Bontch Zinkevitch, who was delighted to hear 
that Nachum had found a buyer for his estates. 

It was now merely a question of agreeing upon the price, 
and arranging the transfer of the deeds. 

The transaction was concluded in a comparatively short 
period of time, to the equal satisfaction of both the Count 
and the Prince. 

After Nachum had so successfully and profitably con- 
cluded this business matter, he set about making preparations 
for his departure to Prague, where he had arranged to meet 
the Prince and his aunt, and see to all that was necessary to 
bring them back into the Jewish fold. 

After a short while, Naehum called together the members 
of the Council of the Jewish community and informed them 
that he and his wife were preparing to return to Prague, from 
which they had come some twenty-three years previously. 

As they intended to remain in Prague for a considerable 
length of time, Nachum said he felt they ought to appoint a 
leader in his place. 

Nachum had a son called Tevel who was quite a fine per- 
son, but not a "patch" on his father. He was different in char- 
acter to some extent, but entirely different in inclination. 

Whereas his father was an excellent business man, Tevel 
had no taste for it at all. 

He owned some land which he had received on his mar- 
riage from his father-in-law, and, in addition, rented some 
gardens and orchards, and himself worked there most suc- 

Tevel always used to say he preferred to work next to 
nature rather than amongst business men who could not al- 
ways be trusted. He, on the other hand, had G-d as a partner, 
and that is why he was so successful, Tevel ended with a 

The estates of the Swedish Prince, together with those 
which the Prince had acquired from the Polish Count, were be- 
ing supervised by a man who was very anxious to obtain the 
expert services of Tevel in the cultivation of this land. But 



Tevel refused, as it would have meant giving up the care of Ms 
own land, and also the land of his father, which was left in Ms 
care after his father's departure for Prague. Nachum had sold 
all his other property and cattle, but knowing how keen Tevel 
was on working on the land, he passed on his gardens and or- 
chards to his son. 

For two years Nachum remained in Prague, and when 
he returned he began to distribute exceptionally large sums 
of money for charity, and sent big donations to the Yeshivoth 
in Poland. 

It did not occur to anyone that Nachum was giving money 
which was not all his own. Actually it was the Swedish Prince 
Johann Cambari who, having now become a Jew, had decided 
to donate a worthwhile amount to Jewish causes. He 
asked Nachum to arrange the matter for him and so that 
his name should not be mentioned, as he preferred to give the 
charity anonymously. 

This went on until a time came when Nachum felt he was 
about to die. He decided he must now entrust the secret to his 
son, so he called him and said to him: 

"My son, there is something I want to tell you concern- 
ing a certain person, which until now I have kept secret. Now 
that I feel my days are numbered, I am going to pass on the 
secret to you, but I ask you to honor it as I have done, and 
disclose it to no one." 

He then told Tevel about the Swedish Prince Cambari, 
how he had returned to his Jewish faith and now called him- 
self Judah Gabrieli, the name he was given at his birth. 

He told him that he, Nachum, had helped the Prince in 
Prague, who had become so keen on things Jewish, that he 
had spent most of his time learning Torah, and was by now 
already a considerable "Lamdan." He had married the daugh- 
ter of a well-known and respected Jew In Prague, and now 
that she had given birth to a son, they had moved to Holland 
to a place outside Amsterdam, where he had bought a castle. 

Nachum asked Tevel to travel to the Prince and give him 
some money that Nachum had of his, and at the same time to 
take him a message telling him that he would advise the Prince 



to sell his estates near Sebezsh. Finally he wanted Tevel to 
say "good-bye" to the Prince for him and tell him he was 
thinking of him before he died. 

Tevel was very moved by all his father told him and prom- 
ised to carry out all he had asked him to do. He felt now that 
he had not, during his lifetime, sufficiently appreciated what 
a great man his father was, and he was determined to improve 
himself as far as he knew how. 

So it was that, when he returned from his mission to the 
Prince in Holland, he began to follow in his father's steps and 
distribute large sums of money to charity, so much so, that 
he became renowned both far and near. And the more he gave, 
the greater seemed to be his success in increasing his fortune. 

But however fine the harvests of his work, he and his 
wife could find no real happiness, for they were childless. 

Then remembering that "to change one's place can change 
one's luck," he and his wife decided that they would leave 
Sebezsh, and settle in Vitebsk, in the vicinity of which he had 
a friend called Mordecai Aaron Segal, who was his partner 
in a distillery of whiskey, in Batzeikov. 


Now, in the year 5365 (1605), the king had issued a de- 
cree that the Jews were to be expelled from Vitebsk during the 
course of two years, and no other Jews admitted. 

He made but one exception, and that was, that only Jews 
who could prove that their presence was indispensable to the 
welfare of the community could remain. 

About a year after this decree, Mordecai Aaron Segal who 
had become friendly with the Mayor of Vitebsk because he 
used to sell Mm whiskey, came to Vitebsk and settled there. 

Mordecai Aaron Segal was a respected person and in 
fact quite charitable, but perhaps he was inclined to give his 
money where it would bring him the most honor. 

When Mordecai came to Vitebsk and saw how Tevel 
gave charity without making any fuss and without looking 
for any special recognition or honor, he saw how more pref er- 



able was Ms friend's modest demeanor, and made up Ms mind 
he would in future act likewise. 

Tevel had brought a few more Jewish families with him 
when he came to Vitebsk, saying he required their services 
for his land cultivation. 

As Tevel was a friend of Mordecai's and the latter a friend 
of the Mayor's, the matter was arranged without difficulty. 

But two years after TeveFs arrival in the town, Mordecai 
told him that he had learned from the Mayor that the king 
was not satisfied with the way in which his decree was being 
treated so lightly* According to him there were far too many 
Jews in Vitebsk, and they would have to renew their claims 
proving they were essential and useful citizens; furthermore, 
if and when they were granted permission to remain, they 
would have to pay a very high sum for the privilege! 

Mordecai Aaron Segal called a meeting of the leaders of 
the community and told them they must be prepared for un- 
pleasant news. There would soon be a decree issued ordering 
the Jews of Vitebsk to leave the town. 

The members of the meeting were naturally very dis- 
turbed at the news, and decided to call the Jews to a day of 
fasting and special prayers. 

Tevel was very grieved at the tragic turn of events, for 
though he personally might be granted permission to remain, 
his heart was sore for his fellow-Jews who, were they to be 
driven out unceremoniously, would lose their present means 
of livelihood, and face ruin and starvation! 

He spent much time contemplating any possibility of a 
way out of the trouble, and suddenly it occurred to him that 
perhaps a bribe would buy the Mayor, in whose hands lay the 
power to grant permission to individual Jews to remain in 
Vitebsk; all the Mayor had to do was to say that the man was 

Tevel lost no time in calling on his partner and friend 
Mordecai Aaron Segal. 

"See my friend, we must help our brothers in their hour 
of need! We might so easily have been in a similar dilemma. 



And so, to show our gratitude to the Almighty we must make 
a sacrifice. I, for my part, am prepared to give a sum, how- 
ever large you think necessary, and you know the Mayor well 
enough to decide what he would regard as a 'handsome gift/ 
so that he promises to allow the Jews to stay." 

Mordecai Aaron Segal was deeply impressed with the 
generosity of his friend and the sincerity of his desire to help 
the Jews of Vitebsk. 

He hurried with level's offer to the Mayor, who "gra- 
ciously" consented to accept the present and promised he 
would see that the Jews were allowed to remain in the town. 
He pointed out, however, that he would still have to publish 
the king's decree first, and then afterwards use his authority 
to grant the Jews "special permission" to remain. 

Mordecai Aaron Segal agreed with the plan and sent word 
round to all the Jews to prepare them for the decree and to 
tell them they must not be alarmed, as the Mayor had prom- 
ised the publication of same was just a matter of formality. 

Sure enough, after a few days, the dreaded decree ap- 
peared on the public-notice boards, throwing the Jews of 
Vitebsk into absolute panic! It was useless trying to convince 
them that they must not take these notices seriously. 

Four days after the publication of the king's decree, the 
Mayor let it be known that as the Jews were essential to the 
existence and progress of the state, he was using the authority 
granted him by the king, and would allow the Jews to remain 
in Vitebsk, without hindrance or interference. 

The relief and joy amongst the Jews was indescribable, 
and when the news got around that it was TeveFs efforts 
backed by his money that had secured for them their present 
salvation, their gratitude to him was unbounded. 

The year 5365 (1605) came, and Tevel's wife gave birth 
to a son. They were so very grateful for this precious gift 
for which they had hoped and prayed, that it is not surprising 
to learn that they gave him everything of the best. Tevel was 
not selfish in his gratitude, for he sent bigger donations even 
than before to all the Yeshivoth in Poland and Lithuania. 



Tevel named his son Naehum, after his own father, and 
the boy was a fine lad, and very gifted. He absorbed his studies 
eagerly and showed excellent results, to the delight of Ms 
teachers and parents who were so anxious to see him grow 
into a fine-charactered, Torah-loving Jew. 

Mordecai Aaron Segal also had a son, whose name was 
Judah Leib. He was a good lad and anxious to make progress 
in his studies, but he just wasn't cut out to be a student, and 
so when he grew up, his father took him into his business 
where he did so well, that Mordecai Aaron Segal gradually 
let his son take over the "reins of management," and himself 
devoted all his time to social welfare. 

Judah Leib developed his father's business so success- 
fully, that their whiskey was known and appreciated far and 

In the year 5380 (1620) the Mayor of Vitebsk died, and 
in his place was appointed one who became an absolute 
thorn in the flesh to the Jews. He hated them, and noth- 
ing they did was right in his prejudiced eyes. He found 
fault with them at every turn and took every opportunity 
of sending in complaints against them to the government. 
Of course he would have no association with Mordecai Aaron 
Segal or his son Judah Leib, and refused even to touch their 

This new Mayor was so filled with Jew-hatred, that he 
could not bring himself to accept anything from them, and 
would not take TevePs gifts. 

This period of persecution had been going on for about 
two years. During this time Judah Leib had managed, despite 
these adverse circumstances, to promote his business to such 
an extent, that he was even receiving orders for his now fam- 
ous whiskey from the very highest officials in the government, 
with some of whom he had become quite friendly in con- 

By 5384 (1624) Judah Leib's whiskey had reached the 
Royal Court and was so liked by the king, that he eventually 
invited him to his august presence, praised him for his excel- 



lent beverage, and conferred upon him medals of merit in 
the presence of his courtiers and counsellors! 

So it was that Judah Leib became an influential personage 
and came to play an important role in Polish government 

During one of Judah Leib's visits to the capital city, he 
learned on high authority that the government treasury was 
empty, and that the king had commanded all his governors 
in the various states to obtain loans on the best terms obtain- 

He also heard that the governors, in the main, had met 
with little success. 

As soon as Judah Leib returned to Vitebsk, he immediate- 
ly called on Tevel and told him of what he had learned. 

Tevel at once declared he was ready to loan a big sum of 
money to the government on long term, the loan to be repaid 
to him out of government revenue. But he would only advance 
the loan on the following conditions: 

a) The Jews of Vitebsk and district to have their rights 
of equality restored to them. 

b) They were to have the right of buying immovable 
property and to build houses in Vitebsk itself, not as 
up to now, only in its suburbs. 

c) The Government to grant the Jews of Vitebsk the 
right to establish a Jewish Community with the same 
freedom as enjoyed by the Catholic community. 

TeveFs friend Mordecai Aaron Segal thought it a very- 
wise suggestion, and said he believed it had a good chance of 

Mordecai Aaron Segal offered to go with his son to the 
capital, to meet the respective members of the government 
and put before them Tevel's offer of the loan and his condi- 

Mordecai Aaron Segal and Judah Leib put the plan into 
effect and waited hopefully for the result. 

Some days passed and then Mordecai Aaron Segal and his 
son received the Royal command to appear before the king. 



The king informed them that lie was willing to accept the loan 
from Tevel on the latter's conditions. 

The king forthwith despatched Judah Leib as a special 
messenger to instruct the Mayor of Vitebsk regarding the de- 
tails of the matter, and to collect the money and bring it back 
to the king. This was in the year 5387 (1627). 

The Mayor was not too pleased at the turn of events but 
he had no alternative other than to obey the king's command. 

He therefore called a special meeting of the City Council, 
the representatives of the government, as weH as the priests of 
the Catholic church, and with the best face he could bring 
himself to put upon the matter, made a public proclamation, 
quoting the king's decree; 

"The Jews were henceforth to be allowed to establish 
their own Community in Vitebsk, and the local government 
authorities were to do all possible to facilitate their carrying 
this into effect. 

"Further, all Jews were to be allowed to live in Vitebsk 
with the same rights as other citizens." 

After the Mayor had read out the king's decree, it was 
decided there and then to choose someone to be the Leader of 
the Jewish community. 

There was a unanimous vote in favor of Mordecai Aaron 
Segal who had so successfully negotiated on behalf of the Jews 
as intermediary between them and the king. 

This same Mordecai Aaron Segal was the ancestor of the 
father-in-law of the Founder of "Chabad," Rabbi Schneur 
Zalman, author of the "Tanya." 

In this same year, Nachum married the daughter of the 
Gaon Rabbi Samuel Joseph of Vilna. For five years Nachum 
studied under the great "Tzadik" Rabbi Yekuthiel Zalman 
Cracower, who was famed as a saint and recluse. 

Nachum was so greatly influenced by his saintly teacher, 
that he, too, tried to emulate his example. He spent most of 
his time in prayer and study at the Beth-Hamidrash, only go- 
ing home to snatch a few hours sleep to refresh himself. Then 
ie would return to the Beth-Hamidrash to devote himself 



wholeheartedly to the service of G-d, In prayer, solitude, and 

He begrudged himself the pleasure of spending time with 
Ms own family, and to no one did he speak, unless it related to 
discussion of the Torah. 

Tevel was very proud of Ms son Nachum and gladly pro- 
vided him and his daughter-in-law with all their needs. 

But Nachum's father-in-law Samuel Joseph was very far 
from being pleased. His biggest concern was that his daugh- 
ter was still childless after being married for many years, 
and according to the "Din," she ought to obtain a divorce from 
her husband. This she absolutely refused to do as she had the 
greatest regard for him, and was very fond of him. 

His daughter-in-law's childlessness grieved Tevel too, 
and he gave still more charity than ever, hoping he would 
thus earn the privilege of becoming a grandfather. 

Tevel's charitableness became a positive by-word, and he 
made no distinction, distributing Ms money amongst the 
needy, Jew and non- Jew alike. 

When Tevel heard of the famine in the district of Lifland, 
he sent his. agent to buy large stocks of grain for distribution 
amongst all the hungry, irrespective of race or creed. For 
the Torah tells us that, especially in time of hunger, help 
must be given to all who need it. 

One might have thought that Tevel would be justified 
in feeling "superior' 1 for all his good deeds and all the adula- 
tion he earned thereby, but he was, on the contrary, exceed- 
ingly humble and modest 

If ever he gave personal thought to his manifold acts 
of charity, it was in grateful thanks to the Almighty for put- 
ting him in such a privileged position where he could help 
those less fortunate than himself! 

It was TeveFs modesty, therefore, that endeared him 
to everyone. 

He had the greatest respect and admiration for Torah- 
students and scholars since his early youth, and the respect 
and admiration had increased with time. 



Yet he to be found equally amongst the very ordi- 
nary working people, attending their Simchoth, be it "Brith- 
MiIah/ J "Bar-Mitzvah ?J or Betrothal. The people just adored 
him for it; he brought grace and honor to every Simchah 
that he came to. 

When Tevel was ninety years of age he felt it was time 
that he put his affairs in the hands of a younger person. He 
chose one by the name of Tzadok Moshe. 

A few years later, Tzadok Moshe asked Tevel to allow 
him to engage his sister's grandson Zalman Aaron as Ac- 
counts manager. This he agreed to, and TeveFs affairs 
were ably handled by these two men. 

When the Jewish Community was first established in 
Vitebsk, a tax was imposed upon each member. Tevel na- 
turally came forward with a handsome donation towards the 
city's needs* 

For the first time in the history of Vitebsk, Yeshivoth 
and charitable institutions were established. 

When, in 5694 (1634), permission was granted to the 
Jews to buy land in Vitebsk and build houses thereon, Tevel 
bought several plots of land in various parts of the town, 
and gave them as a present to the Jewish Community. 

TeveFs generosity helped greatly towards the progress 
of the Community, enabling the BuUding Committee to carry 
out its plan of activity. 

With the expansion of the Community, Jews began to 
build houses and Synagogues in the various streets of Vitebsk, 
and with each "Beth-Ha.midrash" there was always a 
"Cheder" adjoining, for young children. 

Nevertheless, Vitebsk was still in the main, a city of 
merchants and workpeople. The number of Torah-students 
was very small. 

Tevel lived to the age of ninety-seven, and though one 
would say he had reached a very ripe old age, everyone re- 
gretted Ms passing. He was so universally loved, that all the 
town, from the civic and government heads, to the humblest 
and lowest, all came to offer their last respects to this great 


Jewish philanthropist. His funeral was attended by many 
whose tears flowed freely. 

Tevel died in the year 5401 (1641). According to his 
will, a quarter of his possessions was to be distributed to 
charity. This was to be allocated by the leaders of the Com- 
munity. The remainder of his money and property was to 
go to his only son Nachum. Tzadok Moshe and Zalman Aaron 
were to manage the affairs as before. 

Vitebsk was composed of two parts, one was called "The 
Large Side" and the other "The Small Side." The "Large 
Side" was the business center, so it was natural that, with 
the appreciable legacy left the Community by Tevel, they 
should choose the "Small Side" on which to build a Yeshivah. 


Nachum did not allow his newly found wealth to change 
Ms mode of life in the slightest degree. He was the same 
quiet Torah-student and recluse, speaking to no one, and 
spending all his time at the Beth-Hamidrash. 

It was now twenty-four years after his marriage and his 
wife was still barren. She was already thirty-eight years 
old, for in those days girls were married at a very tender age. 
She was only fourteen years old at her marriage. 

Her father Samuel Joseph, who had repeatedly urged 
her without success to agree to a divorce, now finally ap- 
pealed to her husband Nachum, telling him that he must 
persuade her to follow the "Din." 

Nachum was most reluctant to take this step, for he 
knew how devoted his wife was to him always, and he ap- 
preciated it very much. 

Still, however distasteful it was to him or his wife, he 
agreed that they must conform to the "Din." And so he 
called three wise and learned men and asked them how he 
could carry out the matter in the fairest manner possible. 

The decision arrived at was that Nachum should settle 
upon his wife six hundred "gilden" for each year they were 



married. That meant, a sum of about fifteen thousand "gil- 
den" would be given his wife with the divorce, so that she 
would be financially well provided for. 

Nachum wanted her to know that he was sending her 
away because of the necessity of carrying out the "Din" and 
for no other reason, and so he gave her an additional gift of 
several thousand "gilden." 

Meanwhile Tzadok Moshe and Zalman Aaron were man- 
aging Nachum's business with great success. They had ex- 
panded it with the introduction of flax and wool, and had 
put this branch of the business in the care of the well-known 
expert in these lines, Meir Shlomo of Vihia. 

In the course of three years, they found that their profits 
were mounting higher and higher, and Nachum was in fact 
becoming a very rich man. 

Tzadok Moshe proved himself a most successful business 
man, yet he envied anyone who could devote his time to 

In the year 5421 (1661) he traveled to Minsk on business, 
but even when his business was concluded, he could not tear 
himself away from the place. 

Whilst Vitebsk was essentially a business town, Minsk 
on the other hand abounded with Yeshivoth and houses of 
study, where at every turn one met Jews studying the Torah. 

Tzadok Moshe was enraptured! Even the ordinary work- 
people had their own "Beth-Hamidrash" where regular "Shi- 
urim" were arranged for them, to suit their understanding 
and needs. 

As a, child and right on into manhood, Tzadok Moshe had 
spent all his time in Torah-study. But when he married, 
his father-in-law was weak, and so Tzadok Moshe had to as- 
sume the responsibility of supporting not only himself and 
his wife, but also his parents-in-law, his unmarried sisters-in- 
law, and his brother-in-law's orphaned children too. 

But whilst he "put his shoulder to the wheel" very con- 
scientiously and efficiently, his heart nevertheless inclined 
towards Torah-study. So immediately after davvening, morn- 
ing and evening, he snatched an hour or two for study. 



Minsk, therefore, presenting to Mm a picture of Torah- 
study wherever he looked, was to Mm like a drink to a thirsty 
man! He just could not have enough, and so he stayed and 
stayed until he found that he had already spent four months 
in this "enchanting" city! 

One thing that Tzadok Moshe found in Minsk which 
impressed him very favorably, was the advanced education 
of the Jewish women there. 

In Vitebsk, there was no woman who could read "Ivri" 
(Hebrew) and those who were anxious to join in the "dav- 
vening" in Shool used to gather round some elderly lady who, 
in the course of the years, had learned the prayers by heart 
and thus became the "reader" for them, and the others would 
repeat the prayers after her. 

To them it would not only have been an unheard of thing, 
but an undreamed of thing that a woman could be so educated 
that, not only could she read, but also learn GTiumash y Tnach, 
GemorrOj and Rashi! 

This, then, is what Tzadok Moshe found in Minsk. It 
was taken for granted that all women should be able to read 
"Ivri" and "dawen." But in addition there were many who 
could study Torah just the same as the men. 

So whilst Vitebsk was much better off than Minsk in 
the material sense, with beautiful and imposing buildings and 
a name for business, Minsk towered above her richer sister, 
in the spiritual sense with her Torah scholars, both men and 
women, arid her Yeshivoth and Synagogues. 



A of 

Deborah a Brilliant Jorah Scholar. Vitebsk In fhe Throes of 

&tf$so-P0lfs& War. Deborah's Influence In Vitebsk. 4 Blessing 
of Life for Life. A Yeshivah Bearing a Woman's Name. 


Tzadok Moshe stayed at the home of a certain Samuel 
Nachum who was a, very wise man and a G-d-f earing Jew. He 
was a great Torah student who, in addition to his vast Torah 
knowledge, was an expert in business matters. 

Whilst he never at any time devoted himself to business 
directly, he undestood it so well that he became the arbiter 
in all business disputes, and legal adviser to worried business 
men. That, in fact, was how he made his living. 

Samuel Nachum had one daughter named Deborah, who 
was the sole survivor of his several sons and daughters, all 
having unfortunately died in their early infancy. It can 
readily be understood how precious Deborah was to her father 
and mother! They absolutely watched over her! 

They were so terribly afraid that the same fate would 
overtake her as her poor brothers and sisters, that they 
thought of all sorts of things which might protect her. 

They gave a great deal of charity in her name, and every 
year on her birthday, they used to present the cemetery au- 
thorities with new wood to strengthen the fence surrounding 
the cemetery. 



They also nominally handed Deborah over to an old 
couple, friends of theirs, for "adoption." This couple had 
several children, all living, and Deborah's parents hoped that 
her life, too, would be spared by her "attachment" to this 

Deborah was a most gifted child and her parents just 
adored her and absolutely lived for her! Her father began 
to teach her when she was still an infant, just five years of 
age. She made wonderful progress, and by the time she was 
eight, she was already learning Chumash and the Prophets! 

When she was ten years old, she had a thorough knowl- 
edge of the whole Bible and began to learn "Hishnah" and 
"Shulchan Araeh." In addition, her father taught her to 
read and write the Polish language, as well as mathematics. 

Samuel Nachum would not entrust her education to any 
teacher. He preferred to supervise her studies himself. 

And well might he be proud of his pupil and of his tutor- 
ing, for when she was fifteen years of age she was studying 
Gemorro with Rashi! 

At the age of eighteen she married a very fine young 
man, the son of a well-known and respected Jew in Minsk, 
and she was very happily married for ten years, during which 
time her husband made a good living at his business. De- 
borah was a happy wife and mother. She felt she was a lucky 
woman indeed to have such a devoted husband and such lovely 
children, two daughters and one son. 

Then tragedy entered her life so completely, that were 
it not for her great courage and brave spirit, she could never 
have come through as she did. 

Deborah's two daughters died during an epidemic 
amongst the children of the district, and to add to her full 
cup of sorrow, her husband became seriously ill and he, too, 
died within the year. 

The poor widow, with her orphaned son, made their way 
to her parents' home, but death seemed determined to remain 
on her track, for three years later her only surviving child 
became sick and followed his two sisters to the grave! 

Another woman in her place would surely have lost her 



reason, for had she not lost practically everyone dear to her? 
For whom was she to live now? 

She tried so hard to hide her grief from her parents, for 
they were heartbroken because of her trouble. She therefore 
made herself appear calm whenever she was in their presence, 
and if she felt the strain was too much for her, she would 
go to her room and there give vent to her grief in a deluge of 
tears and sobbing. 

She was a wise woman and saw that she must pull her- 
self together and see what she now could do to live a useful 
life and really justify her existence. 

So she threw herself more than ever into her studies and 
into social welfare. 

She prayed to the Almighty to guide her aright, and 
begged Him to grant her strength and wisdom to teach all she 
had been fortunate enough to learn from her father, to her 
sister Jewesses in Minsk. Then she would not feel so lone- 
some and useless. 

Deborah had two friends of her childhood who also had 
studied the same as she, but they were not as brilliant as she 
was. Now the three of them, grown women, used to fore- 
gather and study Torah together. They established study- 
circles amongst the young Jewish women of Minsk, and lec- 
tured to them on all the duties of a true daughter of Israel. 

These circles became so popular and spread so greatly, 
that Deborah was kept very busy indeed lecturing here and 
there and everywhere. She was an excellent orator and 
it was a delight to listen to her clear, stirring voice, and to 
her lucid exposition! 

Deborah found great solace in her work for, in helping 
others, she at the same time stilled the dull pain in her aching 

She was at this time studying the following three books: 
Job, Ecclesiastes, and Proverbs. 

In the Book of Job Deborah learned about G-d's judg- 
ment and Punishment. 

Ecclesiastes showed her the vanity of the world and 
man's so-called pleasures. 



The Book of Proverbs taught her the true spiritual way 
of life. 

These three Books were known to her with all their 
commentaries, and she found that she could study them con- 
tinuously and always find something new and worthwhile in 

Tzadok Moshe soon came to admire wonderful 

woman, so full of courage and enthusiasm for the welfare 
and progress of her fellow-beings, putting away her own 
personal tragedies and associating herself with the hopes and 
ambitions of others. 

He felt that she would be the ideal partner for Ms 
master, the recluse Nachum, but how could he get these two 

Two weeks prior to his leaving Minsk, Tzadok Moshe 
broached the subject to his host, Deborah's father. 

He told Samuel Nachum all about his master, what a 
splendid man he was and, in his opinion, how suitable 
a husband he would be for Deborah. He said he must natural- 
ly speak to Nachum first before the matter could be gone 
into, but as he was here, he thought he would like to hear 
what Samuel Nachum thought of his suggestion. 

Samuel Nachum was most interested, but said Deborah 
would have to be consulted before any proposition could be 
put before Nachum. 

When Deborah was approached in the matter she was 
very sensible about it. She said she was interested to meet 
Nachum as he sounded such a fine personality, but she could 
not be expected to commit herself as to whether or not she 
would want him as a husband before she had even seen Mm! 

It was agreed that nothing should be said about mar- 
riage but that a meeting between Nachum and Deborah 
should be arranged. 

Tzadok Moshe was no great scholar, but he was suffi- 
ciently educated to follow the argument between Deborah 
and her father, and he was lost in admiration of her great 



Thus it was that Tzadok Moshe returned to Vitebsk full 
of enthusiasm about the idea of Nachum and Deborah get- 
ting together. He described Deborah to Nachum in such 
glowing terms, that the latter agreed to make the trip to 
Minsk in order to become acquainted with this extraordinary 

The visit was made and Nachum and Deborah found 
each other very worthy. They became engaged, and very soon 

after were married. 

Tzadok Moshe suggested that Deborah should now take 
charge of her husband's affairs and accounts, and Nachum 
said he was in perfect agreement if Deborah wished it. He 
was only too pleased that it was not expected of him to spend 
his time on business matters. 

Deborah quickly proved to be an able business woman 
with a good head for figures and, above all, a great under- 
standing of her employees. They all just loved her for her 
kind manner and interest in their welfare. 

Obviously Deborah had the greatest respect and regard 
for Torah-scholars, but in her contact with her fellow-beings 
she made no distinction and treated everyone, scholar or 
otherwise, rich or poor, with respect and cordiality. 

Within a few months she had established herself as head 
of her husband's business, but apart from this she had made 
a name for herself in the sphere of Jewish education amongst 
the men as well as the women. But naturally she concentrated 
her efforts more amongst the women, who had so much greater 
need of her. 

She had been so used to the women of Minsk being edu- 
cated, that the appalling ignorance displayed by the Vitebsk 
women quite shocked her, but at the same time evoked in 
her a feeling of pity that they had for so long been so sadly 
neglected. Deborah determined to change this undesirable 
state of affairs as soon as possible, and set about arranging 
study circles for women in the same way as she had done 
in Minsk. She also called attention to the lack of institu- 


tions for looking after the sick and the needy, and gave a lead 
in their establishment and support. 

She was certainly kept busy and spent a very full life 
indeed! She was very happy at having such a wonderful 
husband, but felt that he lived too much apart from the world 
and its affairs, and that this was not right. 

She spoke to him one day about this, but he said mildly: 

"My dear wife, I am sure you are managing excellently 
without my help, so why bring me into these mundane affairs 
now? You know that I believe my duty to be to sit and study 
and pray, and there is no room in such a life for anything 

But Deborah was not satisfied to leave the matter at 
that and began to bring examples of aU the great Tanaim and 
Amoraim who found time to look after their material in- 
terests as well as their spiritual ones. 

"Dear Nachum, surely you know that it is related in 
TaanitJt page 9, about Rabbi Daniel Bar Katina who used to 
go into his garden every day to supervise the day's gardening 
program. Also remember that in Nedarim page 62 we are 
told about Rabbi Ashi who did business even with people who 
worshipped fire, explaining that this was not against the Din. 

Deborah mentioned the case of many Tanaim and Amo- 
raim who amassed fortunes, or received them by inheritance, 
and wound up her arguments by quoting the saying of our 
Sages that "Torah without work ends in naught." 

But Nachum said his own great teacher the Parush of 
Cracow contended that the word "work" meant "Service" to 
the Almighty. Nachum begged her to see that his way was 
the right one and that he be permitted to continue his life as 
before. Deborah persisted, however, as she truly believed her 
husband ought to participate to some extent in more material 
things and live a more complete life. So she tackled him 
from another angle. 

"See now, do you know whether or not you are fulfilling 
the Mitzvah of giving Maaser (tithe) for charity? You should 
look at your accounts and only then can you know." 



Naehum had to admit that he had never done this but 
had just given charity in a haphazard manner. He protested, 
though, that it would take more time than he could spare 
to arrive at the exact figure of "Maaser." 

Deborah assured him that she had the accounts in per- 
fect order and completely up-to-date, and with but a little 
effort they could find out the amounts Nachum had paid out 
for charity since he inherited his father's fortune, and what 
the correct amount should have been. 

Nachum was not merely astonished to find that his wife 
was such a capable manager of his business aif airs, but her 
extensive Torah knowledge astounded him! He began to 
realize more and more what a treasure he had in such a 
wife, and his respect and admiration for her increased enor- 

Now that he thought of her and her station in life, he 
realized also what a change her coming had made, not only 
in his own home which had become a veritable "Open House 
and Council of Wise Men," but in Vitebsk at large, where 
her influence was felt and appreciated in every sphere of 
social and educational activity! 

What he did not know was that Deborah found time 
every day to study the Talmud and that she was already 
studying the "Shass" for the second time! 


In 5414 (1654) war broke out between Poland and Russia. 
It was fought in the area between Vitebsk and Smolensk and 
lasted for thirteen years! 

During this time, the merchants of Vitebsk were kept 
busy supplying the government with necessary requirements 
to keep their army clothed and fed. In 5427 (1667) General 
Sheremetiev captured Vitebsk and arrested most of these 
merchants, sending them far away into the depths of Russia. 

For three years they were kept prisoners before being 
finally released and allowed to return to their homes. 



But nothing, not even this long protracted war, had 
affected Vitebsk and its Jewish community, as Deborah's 

When she first arrived she found material prosperity, but 
spiritual decadence. Especially amongst the women did she 
find a very low spiritual level. 

But how different was the picture now! She had or- 
ganized Torah institutions and charitable institutions and 
centers for the advancement of Jewish education. 

Deborah saw that all her efforts to draw her husband 
out of his seclusion were unavailing, and decided there was 
nothing more she could do about the matter but accept the 
position with as good a grace as possible. For after all, 
she recognized and appreciated the exceptionally high moral 
qualities of her saintly husband, 

Under the circumstances she understood and accepted 
the fact that he spent less time with her than other husbands 
did with their wives, but she knew how to make the best use 
of her leisure. 

There was a most wonderful collection of books in her 
husband's library, which had come down from father to son 
for several generations, and here Deborah used to retire when- 
ever she had time, and browse amongst the books until she 
found one which held her attention. There were all sorts of 
books on all sorts of subjects, and with the thirst that Deborah 
had for knowledge which could never be quenched, she was 
the happiest person in existence when left undisturbed in 
this feast of literature! 

Deborah felt that these literary treasures of her hus- 
band's were worth a thousand times more than his material 
treasures. Yes, Deborah was a contented woman. 

As we have already been told, Deborah's main activities 
were centered amongst the Jewish women of Vitebsk. She 
appealed in the first instance to their kind and womanly 
hearts to help her with her various deeds of charity. 

They were very ready and willing to help her in estab- 
lishing charitable organizations and institutions. This gave 



Deborah her further opportunity to influence them also in 
other directions. 

All the women accepted her as their leader and guide, 
recognizing her superior qualities and abilities. 

Thus it was that when they foregathered at their meet- 
ings, Deborah grasped the opportunity to talk to thpm also 
on religious matters. She told them stories from the Mid- 
rash, sayings of our Sages, "Dinim" of especial interest and 
significance to women, and they listened very readily and 
then thirstily, for Deborah had a wonderful power of oratory 
and it was sheer delight to listen to hei*! She spoke to them 
simply and everyone understood her without difficulty. At 
that time there was already the "Teitch-Chumash" (Chumash 
in Yiddish translation) printed specially for women, and 
Deborah read to them out of it and encouraged them to read 
it for themselves. 

But Deborah was not satisfied to concentrate on one 
section only of the Jewish community. Her ambition was to 
see Vitebsk as a whole become a center of Jewish learning* 
And why not? It need only be a question of time if a be- 
ginning was made, before Vitebsk would become as "literary" 
as Minsk or any other famous Jewish city. 

Since Deborah's childhood she remembered having Ye- 
shivah students come to their house to eat "Teg" (days) 
and later she continued this practice in her own home. But 
here in Vitebsk, where there was but a small Yeshivah more 
or less for local students, it had not been found necessary to 
introduce such a practice, and even had the necessity arisen, 
the people of Vitebsk were not used to such an arrangement. 

Deborah decided it would do the Jews of Vitebsk good to 
practice such an innovation, for it taught people the virtue 
of hospitality, so she had a talk with her husband to see what 
would be their best plan of campaign. 

Believing that charity should begin at home, and that 
it was up to them, to set an example, she suggested to her 
husband that he choose five or six boys from the local Ye- 
shiva and send them to one of the famous Yeshivoth at Cra- 



cow or Prague. They would remain there at his expense until 
their education was of a sufficiently high level to enable them 
to return to Vitebsk, and give the Vitebsk students the benefit 
of their higher education and learning. They would be the 
pioneers of a generation of Torah scholars ! 

As this would obviously take some years, Deborah pro- 
posed that Nachum should appoint someone to visit the great 
and well-known Yeshivoth at Minsk, Slutzk, Brisk, and Vilna, 
and there choose suitable teachers who would be willing to 
come with their wives and families to settle in Vitebsk, on 
condition that they agreed to live and teach in the districts 
allotted to them. 

The purpose of course was that the whole area would 
be covered and the religious education of the whole communi- 
ty cared for. 

Nachum readily agreed, and appointed Rabbi Moshe the 
son of his former teacher, the saintly Gaon Yekuthiel Zalraan 
of Cracow, as the most suitable person to choose the teachers 


Nachum made it clear to Rabbi Moshe that he was un- 
dertaking the cost of all expenses, including the maintenance 
of the teachers and their families whilst they were in Vitebsk. 
He stipulated, however, that they must not know that Na- 
chum was paying them their salaries. He preferred to remain 
their anonymous benefactor, 

However, continued Nachum, should there be people in 
Vitebsk who would like to contribute towards the educational 
expenses, the money could be accepted and turned over to 

He wished quite definitely that he himself bear all the 
costs of the proposed scheme. 

The plan took much time and thought, as was 
expected, and it was some nine months later that Rabbi 
Moshe completed his mission and returned to Vitebsk with 
ten teachers who conformed to the requirements demanded 

by Nachum and Deborah. 


The coming of these teachers eventually attracted other 
scholars to Vitebsk, amongst them a certain Rabbi Ephraim 

Before very long, the sweet sound of Torah could be 
heard throughout the whole town of Vitebsk! "Shiurim" 
were arranged to enable all who wished to attend, to do so 
without having to go very far. The times, too, were fixed 

With everything done to encourage them, the Jews of 
Vitebsk began first to trickle in to the Shiurim, and then 
gradually the trickle became a constant stream as the "stu- 
dents" became more and more interested. 

Very soon it became a matter of course for people of all 
ages, both young and old, to flock to hear a "word of Torah." 
Deborah's dream of making Vitebsk a centre for Torah t was 
gradually becoming a beautiful reality I 

All this takes less to relate than in actual happening. 

It was now ten years since Deborah had first spoken to 
her husband about this plan, and the change in Vitebsk was 
very marked. 

Although Nachum had been very reluctant to change his 
ways, he too had been influenced by his purposeful wife! Lit- 
tle by little he had emerged from his isolation and shown an 
interest in the life around him, 

It was the teachers who had come from the various Ye- 
shivoth who had first called forth his interest. He began to 
meet them and discuss Torah topics with them. This seemed 
to remove, to some extent, his spell of reserve. Occasion- 
ally he even enquired about matters concerning his business! 

Deborah was delighted to welcome these scholars to her 
home and to see how Nachum enjoyed their company and the 
Torah "Pilpul" in which they indulged. 


These were indeed happy years for Nachum and Deborah, 
but their happiness was marred by the absence of children. 
If only they could have had a son to carry on their name, how 



content they would have felt! They were getting on In years 
and their hopes were diminishing. 

In the midst of this state of affairs, they had a very 
special visitor. No less a personality than the famous scholar, 
saint, and Cabbalist, Rabbi Moshe Gershon, a disciple of the 
Gaon Rabbi Eliahu, who was known at that time as "The Baal- 
Shem of Worms." 

For many years Rabbi Moshe Gershon had studied under 
the well-known Rabbi Pinchas in Fulda, Germany. 

Nachum was really thrilled to be host to such a disting- 
uished guest, and he sought every opportunity of talking to 
Mm on Torah matters. 

They found much to discuss, and Nachum felt so drawn 
to him that he found he could talk to him on every subject 
without reservation. 

Thus it came about that he revealed to him the inner- 
most secrets of his heart, and he told Mm of Ms hitherto 
undisclosed sorrow, me fact that he had no child. 

Rabbi Moshe listened to him with great sympathy and 
then gently said to him: "You know, my good friend, there 
Is no one in the world who has everything his heart desires. 
There are three blessings that Man looks for in life. There 
is the blessing of having children, the blessing of wealth, 
and the blessing of long life. 

"The Almighty has already blessed you with wealth and 
long life. You cannot also expect the third blessing, children. 

"If, however, you are convinced that your preference is 
to have children, you must be prepared to relinquish one of 
the other two blessings," 

Rabbi Moshe's words made a great impression on Na- 
chum. Shutting himself away from everybody, he spent 
many days in silent contemplation of his problem, seeking 

to find the true answer, 

Finally he emerged from his seclusion and sought out 
Rabbi Moshe, telling him he was willing and ready to give 
up either of the two things with which he was already blessed 


wealth (his business had flourished exceedingly ) , or long 
life (he was at this time over sixty years of age). 

When Nachum had told Rabbi Moshe of his choice, the 
latter gave him his blessing that it should be as Nachum 

Before a year had passed since the Rabbi's blessing, De- 
borah realized one day that she was with child, but she hesi- 
tated to tell her husband. She was worried lest the child 
would share the same fate as the unfortunate children of her 
first marriage. 

When three months had passed by, Deborah decided she 
would not be able to hide her pregnancy much longer, so she 
might as well tell her husband. 

She came to him and told him joyfully of her news, 
hiding her fears from him. 

He too received the welcome news very gladly, although 
he knew this meant that he would soon die. He remembered 
that Rabbi Moshe Gershon had offered him a choice of three 
blessings: long life, wealth, or a child. 

Well, his business was, if anything, more flourishing 
than before, and here was the promise of a child, G-d be 
praised. So obviously it meant that he would soon have to 
meet the Giver of Life and Death! 

He said nothing of this to his wife, whom he loved and 
did not wish to pain, but again retired to his old ways, his 
life of solitude spent in prayer, contemplation, and study. 

Nachum removed himself completely from the society 
of his fellow-beings and devoted all his time to "Teshuvah," 
in preparation for his departure from earthly life to meet his 

Each day found him weaker and weaker, but whenever 
he came out of his room, to Deborah, he tried to appear as 
if nothing untoward was happening. 

His death came quickly, to the great grief of his devoted 
wife and to the sorrow of the whole Jewish community of 
Vitebsk, who all mourned the passing of this great personality, 



In due time, Deborah gave birth to a girl whom she 
named Nechamah, after her husband Nachum. 

According to his Will, his property and possessions were 
to be divided into three parts, the first part to go to charity, 
the second part to his wife Deborah, and the third to his 

He also left a sealed letter which was to be opened when 
his child would reach the age of "Bar-Mitzvah," not before. 

Deborah brought up her daughter along the same lines 
as her own upbringing had been, providing her with private 
teachers so that she should eventually become a Torah schol- 
ar like herself. She supervised her training generally, so 
that she should be a worthy daughter of Israel. 

Meanwhile Deborah continued to manage her late hus- 
band's business with the same success as before, and she dis- 
tributed charity with a generous hand. 

It was now twenty-five years since her arrival in Vitebsk, 
and there was a vast improvement in the city's Jewish popu- 
lation in a spiritual and cultural sense. 

There were many more Talmud Torahs now, and the 
number of pupils at the Yeshivah had increased enormously. 
They were mostly from the town itself and surrounding 

The town had also by now attracted a fair number of 

Particularly noticeable, however, was the unbelievable 
change amongst the women of Vitebsk! Now they were all 
able to "dawen," and with the help of the "Tze'ena-Re'ena" 
and other "Techinoth" in Yiddish, had acquired an increasing 
knowledge of important Jewish matters. 

When the time of Nechamah's "Bar-Mitzvah" came, the 
sealed letter left by her father before his death was opened, 
and it was then they learned that Nachum had known that 
in receiving the blessing of having a child to continue after 
him, he himself would have to die. 

The letter directed that Deborah should establish a Yeshi- 
vah in the name of their child, and that the cost and main- 



tenance should be provided for from the funds of the child's 

Thus it was that in the year 5457 (1697) a Yeshivah 
was established in the part of Vitebsk known as "The Large 
Side/' and called "Nechamah, Rabbi Naehum TevePs, Yeshi- 
vah." The women, in the main, called it "Nechamah Deborah's 
Yeshivah," in recognition of the widow Deborah's well- 
earned popularity. 

Amongst the scholars of note who came to Vitebsk about 
that time, was Rabbi Simchah Zelig who was also known as 
"The Genius of Stavisk." 

He had spent ten years in solitude, so that he could de- 
vote himself entirely and exclusively to Torah study. 

He was appointed the head of the Yeshivah aforemen- 
tioned, and in less than two years' time, there were a hundred 
and thirty scholars attending the Yeshivah, which was very 
satisfactory, under the circumstances. 

Rabbi Simchah Zelig did not remain at the head of the 
Yeshivah for very long, however, as he felt he would prefer 
to return to his former life of seclusion, devoting all his time 
to Torah-study. 

Despite the spiritual ascent of Vitebsk, it could still not 
compare with Minsk as a Torah-center; nor with Slutzk or 
Brisk, and most certainly not with Vilna, which was already 
at that time recognized as the leading center of Torah 


of the of 

"The Doves" of Wemerov. Sole Survivor Returns f f&e Scene 
I fh& M$sser.~- Tfte "Old Safnf" wft was Revered by 


The influence of the Minsk Yeshivoth spread all around, 
for her Torah scholars established Yeshivoth in the surround- 
ing districts of Smilovitch and Smargon. 

Baruch learned all about the greatness of Minsk and her 
scholars during this Pesach that he spent at the home of his 
friend Eliezer Reuben the smith, in DobromysL He also 
learned about the important role that his grandfather, who 
had lived in Minsk, had played there. 

Baruch suddenly felt a yearning to visit Minsk at the 
first opportunity. He who had for so long run away from 
relatives, now felt a desire to come nearer to them. He had 
a craving to learn more about his mother, who had died when 
he was still a young child, but whom he remembered as a 
very wise and learned woman. 

Among the many things Baruch had learned during Ms 
stay at the smithy, about the world at large and about vari- 
ous personalities in particular, not least was what he learned 
about the character of Ms host. 

He noticed how he generally conducted himself at his 
work, and outside it. Every Friday it was the practice of 
Eliezer Reuben to close his smithy, winter and summer, an 



hour before noon. The peasants who, in the main, were his 
customers, were wel aware of this practice of "Ruvke" and 
made sure they came in good time on Friday mornings with 
their "jobs." 

Whichever of them happened to be at the smithy on 
Fridays about this time, was always invited by the smith to 
a drink and piece of cake, 

"Let the peasants also appreciate that we have the holy 
and blessed Shabbos," he used to say, 

After everyone had departed, Eliezer Reuben used to go 
to the Baths and on his return home, would rest for a couple 
of hours so that he should be rested and clean; then he would 
apply himself to the preparations for Shabbos in a manner 
worthy of the occasion. 

Eliezer Reuben was tall and of very good appearance. 
He had a long white beard, and always wore a happy smile 
which added greatly to his charm. 

When he was dressed for Shabbos, having discarded his 
week-day clothes and his week-day cares, he made a most 
pleasing impression upon all who saw him. 

On this particular Friday, which was "Erev Shabbos 
Hagodol," he had, as usual, stopped working fairly early 
and set off for the baths. 

He had taken with him his son-in-law's nine year old 
brother, Israel Chaim, who had also come for Pesach to the 

Eliezer Reuben seemed rather longer than usual, and 
when they began wondering at home what could have de- 
tained him, the little boy Israel Chaim came running in look- 
ing upset. 

He said Eliezer Reuben had sent him home to tell them 
what had happened. 

Whilst they were bathing they heard a scream from 
someone in the baths. People started running to see what 
was the matter and found that the Rav of the town, who was 
also at the baths, had collapsed. 

Eliezer Reuben and some others quickly got dressed, and 
whilst others tried to bring him back to consciousness, the 



smith and his companions ran to the Beth-Hamidrash to say 
"Tillim" and pray for the recovery of their beloved Rabbi, 

They couldn't get any more information out of the 
frightened lad, so Baruch and one of the smith's sons-in-law 
quickly set off for the town to see if they could get any more 
news of what had occurred. 

They found everyone very disturbed about the sick man, 
for everybody knew how important a person was the Rav of 
Dobromysl and what a remarkable past he had had. 

The Rav of Dobromysl was called Rabbi Zebulun Mor- 
decai who inherited his post as Rav, from his father-in-law 
Rabbi Gabriel. He was greatly beloved in his congregation, and 
when the news got around that he had become paralyzed 
whilst in the "Merchatz" (baths) that Friday of Erev Shab- 
bos Hagodol, everyone was terribly upset. 

Everybody prayed for his recovery, and whilst some 
went to the Beth-Hamidrash to say "Tillim" on his behalf, 
others went to the cemetery to pray at the graves of his 

It was almost time for lighting the Shabbos candles when 
word was passed around that the Rav had recovered con- 
sciousness and could speak, if with some difficulty. But his 
whole body remained paralyzed* 

As soon as the Rav could recognize the people around 
him, he sent for the Dayan Rabbi David Moshe and his grand- 
son Rabbi Shlomo. He asked that the latter should deliver the 
sermon in Shool on the following day, and asked the Dayan 
to help him with its preparation, for Shabbos Hagodol was an 
important occasion and called for a very special sermon befit- 
ting the great day. 

The Rav also managed to make them understand that 
he wanted them to do him the favor of getting a "Minyan" 
of Jews who should go to the Beth-Hamidrash, ask pardon 
of one of the Sifrei-Tordh; wrap it in a Tallis and bring it 
to his house so that he should be able to "dawen" with a 
"Minyan," which, he said, he had never missed during his 
whole lifetime. 



The Dayan and Ms grandson complied with the Rav's 
request and went to the Beth-Hamidrash, there choosing a 
Sefer-Torah known as "The Rich Orphan's Sefer-Torah," or 
"Rabbi Elimelech the Chassid's Sefer-Torah." 

A remarkable story was bound up with it. 

In the year 5407 (1647) a certain Jew named Isaiah 
Shlomoh settled in DobromysL He was a very rich man and 
came with his wife and one child, a boy of four. He also 
brought with him a relative named Naphtali, who acted as 
his assistant 

Some people said that Isaiah Shlomoh was a descendant 
of one of the Jews who had been exiled from Spain, whilst 
others said they believed he was an exile from Frankfurt, 

Four years later he died, and his relative Naphtali took 
over the care of the boy. The boy's name was Elimelech. 

The orphaned lad showed remarkable ability in his 
studies and devoted himself to them body and soul. 

When Elimelech became Bar-Mitzvah he suddenly de- 
clared that he wished to be allowed to live a life of solitude, so 
that he need not talk to anyone and could study undisturbed 
to his heart's content. 

No amount of talking to him, by Naphtali or his teacher, 
could make him realize that this was no life for a young lad. 
He was adamant. 

Thus he grew to manhood and married an orphan girl 
of his own choice. 

After five years of married life he decided he wanted to 
resume his life of isolation, and despite the fact that his wife 
had borne him two children, he asked her to accept a divorce. 

He settled a substantial sum of money on her and also 
provided for his children's future. 

Elimelech showed little interest in his wealth, which was 
still considerable, and finally gave the major part of what 
was left, for the establishment of a "Guest-House" for way- 
farers, whilst he himself went to live at the home of the 
cobbler Tanchum who lived next to the Beth-Hamidrash* 



This was very convenient for EHmeleelL He spent aE 
day and a good part of the night at the Beth-Hamidrash, In 
fact this was more Ms home than the cobbler's house. 

Every night, after everyone had departed, he used to 
take a broom and sweep the floor of the Beth-Hamidrash. 

This he did very faithfully. 

His daily diet, excepting on Shabbos, consisted of bread 
and water. 

In the year 5440 (1680) there came to Dobromysl Rabbi 
Gabriel, who became the Rav of the town. Elimelech learned 
from him that there was a very fine G-d-f earing Jew who was 
a "Sofer" (Scribe) in Polotzk, and he decided to go and ask 
him to write a Sefer-Torah for him. 

This Scribe was Rabbi Shmaya Zerachyah, a brother of 
the Cabbalist Rabbi Bezalel Uri, and the grandfather of the 
Tzadik Rabbi Israel, the pupil of the Preacher of Mezeritch. 
Elimelech ordered the writing of the Sef er-Torah which took 
the "Sofer" four years to do. 

During the whole period of the writing of the Sefer- 
Torah, Elimelech remained in Polotzk at the home of the 
Scribe, and when it was ready, he had Rabbi Petachiah read 
it through to see there was no error. After the check-up, 
Elimelech took the Sefer-Torah and brought it to Dobromysl 
where he presented it to the Beth-Hamidrashu 

When his children grew up, he got them married into 
fine families and provided them with their financial require- 
ments. As for himself, he continued to live the simple hermit- 
life he had chosen for himself. 

In spite of his meager attention to his physical welfare, 
Elimelech lived to the age of seventy-nine years, and when 
he died in 5498 (1738) his Sefer-Torah became the property 
of the Beth-Hamidrash, and became known, as we have 
already mentioned, as "The Rich Orphan's Sefer-Torah." 

It was this famous Sefer-Torah which had now been 
brought to the house of the sick Rav, Rabbi Zebulun Mordecai. 



At the home of his friend the smith, Baruch now learned 
the whole tragic story of the unfortunate family of the Rav 
of Dobromysl. 

Rabbi Zebulun Mordecai was descended from the ReMO 
Rabbi Moses Isserles. 

The family, at whose head was the famous Gaon Rabbi 
Zecharyah Yerucham, who had himself studied under the 
ReMO, had, after much wandering, settled in a village near 
Nemerov where everybody worked on the land, and where 
they all drew their earnings from a "communal cash box." 
In fact they all lived together in such harmony and brother- 
hood, that they were nicknamed "The Doves." 

Thus these people, called "The Doves," lived their com- 
munal life for three generations, (a wonderful instance of 
Jewish kinship), until the family, by now comprising some 
seventy to eighty souls, settled in Nemerov. 

Here "The Doves" continued their communal way of 
life. The older ones who were past working, retired in com- 
fort to devote themselves to Torah, whilst the younger ones 
worked and provided for all. 

Then came the never-to-be-forgotten year 5408 (1648) 
when the bloodthirsty Bogdan Chmelnitzki, organized the ter- 
rible pogroms, and Nemerov became one of the biggest blood- 
baths for the poor helpless Jews. Masses of them were slaugh- 
tered mercilessly by the Ukranian "butchers," and all but one 
of the entire family of "The Doves" were slain. 

It was nothing less than a miracle which saved the life 
of the one solitary survivor! This was the eleven-year-old 
boy Zecharyah Yerucham, the grandson of the Zecharyah 
Yerucham who first came with his family to settle in Neme- 
rov. Zecharyah Yerucham ran for Ms life from the horrible 
blood-bath which he had witnessed, hiding every time he 
heard a suspicious sound, and only emerging when it was 
dark, to wander on to the next likely-looking "refuge." 

Thus he wandered on for some weeks, worn out in body 



and mind, foot-sore, injured, ragged, frightened, and de- 

In this pitiable plight he reached Brisk. Some kind peo- 
ple took him into their home, but they could get nothing out 
of the terrified and sick lad. All they could gather was that 
he was the only tragic survivor of the horrible pogrom! 

By dint of their kindness and loving care, this family 
gradually restored him to normalcy. After a few weeks, he 
began also to visit other Jewish families. They were anxious 
to do all they could to make him feel he was not alone in the 

Eventually Zecharyah Yerucham became stronger and 
calmer and, very soon, he began to attend the Beth-Hamid- 
rash where, wrapped in a Tallis but without Tefillin, he used 
to "dawen" before the "Amud," and say "Tillim" for the 
souls of the martyred Jews of Nemerov who gave up their 
lives because of their Judaism. 

Zecharyah Yerucham never missed attending Shool, 
morning, noon, or night. Every morning after "dawening" 
he would read the Psalms and then say Kaddish. 

After Minchah he would learn Midrash and Mishnayoth, 
and after Maariv he would conduct a Talmud lesson for the 

And so he took every opportunity of saying Kaddish 
and "learning" for those who had fallen innocent victims to 
the barbarous butchers of Nemerov. 

Zecharyah Yerucham was a remarkable boy with an ex- 
ceptional talent for study. He had a wonderful memory due 
to his brilliant, photographic brain. 

He had to look but once into his "Sefer," and he remem- 
bered it for always! But he not only remembered what was 
written, he understood it all so quickly and well. That is why 
they immediately nicknamed him "The Prodigy of Nemerov." 
When he came to Brisk he was only eleven years old, yet he 
knew several "Mesichtoth" by heart! 

The Rav of Brisk, the Gaon Rabbi Moshe Yaakov, took 
a great liking to the lad and recognized his capabilities. He 



therefore took "him to Ms house and taught him together 
with his own son, Zwi Hirsch, who was also a good student, 
but two years older than Zecharyah Yerucham. 

The "Prodigy of Nemerov" was a very goodlooking boy, 
but because of his tragic experiences there was always such 
a sad look in his eyes! He also looked much older than his 
tender years, on account of all he had been through. 

This led to some controversy amongst the congregants 
at the Beth-Hamidrash as to whether Zecharyah Yerucham 
was old enough to put on Tallis and Tefillin when he acted as 
"Reader" for the Minyan. 

Some objected that he was not yet "Bar-Mitzvah," whilst 
others contended that he was "mature" enough spiritually 
to make the "Berachoth" over the Tallis and Tefillin. 

For six years Zecharyah Yerucham studied most zealous- 
ly, then when only seventeen years of age, he was considered 
eligible for receiving "Semiehah" by the great scholars of 

When the Rav of Brisk died, his son, the brilliant Rabbi 
Zwi Hirsch took over his position as the spiritual leader of 
the community, Zecharyah Yerucham meanwhile had gone to 
Horodno where there was a great Yeshivah with the Gaon 
Rabbi Raphael David as head. 

This Rabbi Raphael David was a grandson of the Gaon 
Rabbi David Ziltzburg, a pupil of the Gaon Rabbi Joseph 
Katz, the Rav of Cracow, and a pupil of the MaHarShaL's 

For two years Zecharyah Yerucham studied at this Ye- 
shivah under Rabbi Raphael David. Here he became acquaint- 
ed with the Rav of the town, the Gaon Rabbi Benjamin Wolfe, 
and became friends with his son Judah, 

During Zecharyah Yeracham's stay in Horodno he visit- 
ed Rabbi Naphtali Hirsch Ginsburg several times in Pinsk. 

The "Rosh-Ha Yeshivah" bestowed upon him the title of 
"More-Morenu" and wanted him to marry his granddaughter, 
the daughter of his only son Rabbi Abraham Shlomoh, but 



Zecharyafa Yerucham had decided he was not yet ready for 
marriage. He wanted to undergo a period of self-imposed 
"exile" before settling down. 

Whilst he was at the Yeshivah, Zecharyah Yerucham had 
heard of the greatness of the "Maggid" (Preacher) of Slutzk, 
Rabbi Bezalel, as well as of the fame of the Gaon of Slutek, 
Rabbi Aaron Moshe, who was already a hundred and ten 
years old, and who had, by then, studied in solitude for a con- 
secutive period of about eighty years! 

It was under these famous scholars that Zecharyah Ye- 
rucham yearned to study. 

The old Gaon welcomed Zecharyah Yerucham with open 
arms, particularly when he heard that the young man was a 
member of the famous family-community of Nemerov, "The 

Rabbi Aaron Moshe was also connected with the ReMO, 
who was the ancestor of Zecharyah Yerucham's family. 

Zecharyah Yerucham left Slutzk and wandered through 
many towns and townlets, everywhere finding someone from 
whom he could learn something. 

In Kreinenitz he found the Yeshivah "Ohel Yitzchak" 
(after its founder, Rabbi Yitzchak HaCohen, a pupil of the 
"MaHarShaL") , and here he attended the Shiurim of the Gaon 
Rabbi Yechezkiel Meir. Here too he found a veritable treas- 
ure of a library of the Yeshivah books, and he spent weeks 
delving into them, to his endless delight. 

Naturally, Zecharyah Yerucham decided to visit Neme- 
rov, his home-town, and the scene of the awful massacre of 
his people by Chmelnftzkf s bandits, from whom he had fled 
in terror as a child, ten years previously. 


The nearer he came to Nemerov, the more he learned 
about the terrible things that had happened in this town of 

When he finally reached Nemerov, he found the place 



still in ruins. Here he learned more details about Ms family 
who were murdered. 

From Nemerov, Zecharyah Yemcham went on to the 
village where the colony of "The Doves" used to be. Here 
he found the only Jewish family who lived there. The family 
of the old miller, Mendel. He was one of three Jews whom 
the villagers had managed to hide and rescue, but the other 
two had long since left, and only Mendel now remained to 
tell his tale. 

The miller took Zecharyah Yerucham around and showed 
him the houses where the colonists used to live, especially 
pointing out the house of "The Old Saint," the name which 
the peasants had given to the founder of the colony, Zechar- 
yah Yerucham, after whom the "Prodigy of Nemerov" was 

These houses were already old and tumbledown, and 
other people now lived in them. Only the house of "The Old 
Saint" remained empty. It was a whitewashed house with a 
big garden. 

The villagers still talked with awe about the old Zechar- 
yah Yerucham, saying that when he lived in the village, no 
mother, woman or beast, lost her young! 

And whenever people fell sick, "The Old Saint" always 
brought about their recovery by giving them bread and wa- 
ter; talking to them and telling them to be good and honest 
and to put their faith in the Almighty. 

During the four years he stayed in the village, theft and 
robbery ceased. At the beginning there still were some thefts. 
Some peasants stole a sheep and a calf from the stable of a 
Jew, and also a cow and horse from the stable of a non-Jew. 

Suspicion fell upon two brothers who lived in the village 
and had two brothers in the adjoining village. 

They were interrogated but swore they were innocent. 
As no proof could be brought against them they were allowed 
to go free. 

Barely a month had passed, when one of the suspected 
brothers suddenly died! Another month passed and one of 



the brothers in the next village, chopping wood in the forest, 
was struck by a falling tree and broke his back! A third 
brother was crossing a frozen lake during the winter, when 
the ice cracked beneath him and he was drowned. 

Everyone felt the brothers had lost their lives because 
they were guilty, and were punished for disobeying "The Old 

The fourth brother denied vehemently that he had any- 
thing to do with the thefts, but he knew about them. As he 
fell ill, he sent word to "The Old Saint" and begged him to do 
something so he would not die. 

Zecharyah Yerucham told him that if indeed he was in- 
nocent of the thefts, then he would not die within the year 
as had his brothers before him, but as he had kept quiet 
about the crimes, he would in any case remain an invalid all 

his life. 

The old man advised him to refund the amount of the 
thefts, then he might be cured of his sickness, but this the 
peasant did not want to do, and so he remained sick for 
two years. 

By that time he was ready to fall in with the advice he 
had spurned, and sure enough, when he had repaid the amount 
of money covering the thefts of his brothers, he became well 

It was then that old Zecharyah Yerucham's fame spread 
amongst the peasants, and they nicknamed him "The Old 

When old Zecharyah Yerucham and his family left the 
village, and settled in Nemerov, the villagers, Jew and Gen- 
tile, bought the house and kept it empty, but in good order. 

Whenever a couple married, they were brought into this 
house "for luck." 

The garden was cared for by the whole village, who took 
turns at looking after it, and whatever grew there was dis- 
tributed amongst the poor, Jew and non-Jew alike. 

This then was the remarkable story that the young Ze- 
charyah Yerucham was now told. It made interesting hear- 
ing indeed. 



When the villagers heard that young Zecharyah Yeru- 
cham was the grandson of their revered friend of blessed 
memory, "The Old Saint," they paid him the honor they con- 
sidered due to him. They offered him a beautiful house and 
garden if only he would agree to stay and settle there. But 
Zecharyah Yerucham would not stay; he had other plans. 
He wanted to be on his way. 

He travelled as far as Ludmir where he spent some time 
in Torah discussion with the local Rav, the famous Gaon 
Rabbi Shlomoh Naphtali, and also with his son, the brilliant 
Rabbi Nachman. 

From Ludmir, Zecharyah Yerucham continued his way 
until he reached Lutzk where there were at that time a num- 
ber of well-known scholars. That was just what Zecharyah 
Yerucham was looking for, for from them he could derive 
greater and deeper knowledge of the Torah. 

One of these great scholars, at that time in Lutzk, was 
the renowned Gaon, Rabbi Pesach Katz, whom people credited 
with magical powers. His son, Rabbi Moshe Cohen, was the 
Communal Rabbi. 


In of Old 

fi flit Wat # Ifc Jtssso-Poffslt War.~-TJie Oaf standing Taf- 
Mcfltfc of Ofrf Jfta.~~ Tfte "Rich Pauper/* 


Whilst lie was in Lutzk, Zacharyah Yerucham became 
acquainted with a "wanderer" whom he recognized as a great 
Tsjadik and scholar, despite the efforts of the latter to dis- 
guise the fact and his repeated refusal to disclose his identity. 

Zecharyah Yerucham followed him wherever he went* 
and even after two months, still did not know his name. 

About the first week in Nissan the Mystic had "Yahr- 
zeit," and only then, when the Shamash asked him his 
name to be called to the Torah, did Zecharyah Yerucham learn 
that the man he had been accompanying for almost three 
months, was called Nachum Tuvya, son of Shlomoh. More than 
that he could not find out. 

Both turned in the direction of Vilna, which, together 
with all the surrounding districts, presented a scene of ruin 
and devastation. It was soon after the war which had been 
waged between the Poles and the Russians. 

The Russians had managed to capture the place with 
the help of the Cossacks, who had wrought utter destruction 
in all the towns and townlets in which they set foot. 

Czar Alexei was then in power, and he showed a certain 
measure of friendliness towards the Jews. He was an enter- 
prising and resourceful monarch and allowed them conces- 



sions. As a result Vilna, which had suffered from the war 
more than other towns, was rebuilt and rehabilitated within 
the comparatively short space of two years. 

However, although the towns and townlets were taken 
care of, the villages were left to go to ruin. Particularly were 
the estates of the nobles allowed to sink into neglect and 
decay. The nobles had fled before the enemy, and their peas- 
ant workers had either been killed or captured in battle. 

Seeing the danger of the land going to waste, the Jews 
rented large tracts which they cultivated. The government 
provided them with seed, in return for which it claimed a 
percentage of the produce at harvest-time. 

There were also many orchards which the noblemen had 
planted with the aid of agricultural students and bota- 
nists. These too, the Jews rented from the government and 
shared the fruit which they harvested from them. The Jews 
employed the widows and orphans of the fallen peasants, to 
help in the work on the land and in the orchards, to their 
mutual benefit. Thus it was that this particular district began 
to "live" again. 

The mills and breweries were also taken over by the Jews. 
In fact they took over the management of most of the prop- 
erty which had previously been owned by the noblemen. 

The Rabbis of Vilna, as soon as they realized the posi- 
tion, called a meeting of the heads of the community and 
pointed out to them that should the noblemen ever return, 
they would blame the Jews for taking over their land and 

They would probably overlook the fact that it was from 
the Government in power that the Jews had rented the lands, 
mills, etc., and had paid for everything they had taken over. 
They might even accuse the Jews of having been on the side 
of the Russians during the war, helping them to capture Vilna 
and surrounding districts, with a view to reaping the benefits 
and favors of the victorious Russian government. 

The Rabbis suggested, therefore, that whenever a Jew 
rented any property previously belonging to a Polish noble- 
man, he should set aside a certain percentage for the depend- 



ents of the said nobleman. And in the case where they were 
not on the spot at the time, the money could be put aside 
in their name, in the presence of witnesses. So that whenever 
these noblemen should return, they could never say that the 
Jews had swindled them. 

This was a very important step indeed towards safe- 
guarding the good name of the Jews, and obviating the pos- 
sibility of libels against the Jews on the part of the defeated 

But despite all that the Jews did to be fair and consider- 
ate towards their non- Jewish neighbors, there were still some 
elements amongst the Poles who wanted to make trouble for 
the Jews. 

They were jealous of the Jews' success, and began to 
carry tales to the governing authorities and even sent a depu- 
tation to the Czar asking him to drive the Jews out of Vilna 
and district. 

These mischievous trouble-makers also sent word to the 
noblemen, who had not dared to return to their homes, that 
the Jews had taken possession of their estates. 

The Czar, fortunately for the Jews, refused to recognize 
the Polish deputation, and on the contrary, ordered the Gov- 
ernor of Vilna to make public acknowledgment of the benefits 
the Jews had brought by their constructive rehabilitation of 
the war-torn land. He further ordered the Governor to show 
public recognition to those Jews who had especially earned it. 

Hearing that the sulky Poles threatened to take the law 
into their own hands and make trouble for the Jews if the 
Czar would not do so, the latter gave orders that all necessary 
measures were to be taken to see that the Jews were protected. 

The noblemen also refused to "take the bait" of the 
Polish peasants, and replied that they were very appreciative 
of the honesty of the Jews who, of their own accord, had 
suggested paying the noblemen a percentage of the profits 
of the estates. They also sent letters to the Jews who were 
in charge of these estates, thanking them and praising them 
for their work, and expressing the hope that they would 
continue with it in the future. 



When Zecharyah Yerucham arrived with the Mystic 
Rabbi Nachum Tuvya in Vilna, the material position of the 
Jews there was quite good. Not so, however, their spiritual 
welfare. It is true that some of the great scholars who had 
fled when the Cossacks entered the city, .had now returned 
to Vilna, but no one could quickly or easily forget that the 
Cossacks had, in the year 5415 (1655), killed 25,000 souls 
in and around Vilna. 

During this time, the four great Vilna scholars of the 
period, Rabbi Moshe Rivkes (author of the "Re'er HaGolah"), 
Rabbi Ephraim (the "Shaar-Ephraim"), Rabbi Shabbathai 
Cohen (the "Shach"), Rabbi Shmuel Koidenaver, and others, 
had found refuge in other Jewish communities, and the Vilna 
Jews were now trying to induce them to return. 

All these things were new to Zecharyah Yerucham and 
his companion the Mystic, and they heard much and learned 
more, during their four months' stay in Vilna. 

They learned from the great scholars who were present, 
and learned too, indirectly, from the absent scholars. For 
instance, the two travellers swallowed with great interest, 
the comments of the aforementioned Rabbi Moshe Rivkes 
on the Tractate "Zevachim" and Tractate "Menochoth." 
These writings positively opened their eyes! 

They heard much, too, about the "Shach," and two 
stories about him especially appealed to them. One was as 
follows : 

The "Shach" was so oblivious to everything that went 
on around him when he was engrossed in his studies that 
once, when he went up onto the roof so that he could study 
in solitude, people saw him walking about as if he were on 
the ground. When he came to the edge of the roof, he just 
skipped over to the roof of the next house as if it were the 
most natural thing to "promenade" in this manner. The peo- 
ple below held their breath in horror, fearing some accident 
would befall him, but he continued his pacing to and fro un- 
concernedly, completely immersed in his own thoughts! 

The other story was that when his son Moshe became 
seriously ill, the "Shach" naturally was very grieved. He 



prayed for Ms son's recovery but he only seemed to grow 
steadily worse. In fact he was just about nearing Ms end. 

When the "Shach" realized the gravity of his son's con- 
dition, he implored the Almighty to spare the life of Ms be- 
loved son, and promised he would pay with his "Chiddushe- 
Torah" of that day. 

Immediately his son's health took a definite turn for the 


Zecharyah Yerucham and Nachum Tuyva learned much 
during their stay in Vilna. They found veritable treasures of 
literature and rare manuscripts in the synagogues, which 
they had never seen before! 

They also met many famous scholars in this city which 
was known throughout Jewry as "The Jerusalem of Lith- 

Whilst they were in Vilna, there died there the well- 
known Jewish philanthropist Shalom Shachne Sorke's, the 
brother of Raphael Shlomoh who was known in Vilna as "The 
Rich Pauper/* They were both sons of Abraham who was 
called "The Beloved Abraham," and he was the son of Shimon 
Doktorovitch of Cracow, one of the founders of the famous 
Vilna Synagogue, built in the year 5323 (1563). 

This Shimon Doktorovitch, together with his partner 
Israel, used to pay the government for the right to build 
houses and shops all over Poland and Lithuania, which they 
used to rent out. 

They did very good business indeed, but being both very 
fine Jews they always paid 10% of their profits to charity. 
In their case, a most substantial sum, but they gave it gladly. 

Abraham was the only son of Shimon, and, as can be 
imagined, he had the best of everything. His father provided 
him with the best tutors obtainable, but somehow Abraham 
lacked the talents necessary to make a student. 

Abraham's virtue lay in his good-heartedness and gen- 
erous nature. He seemed to "nose out" everyone, be he in 



the most out-of-the-way corner of some narrow slum-street 
of Vilna, who was in need of help! Abraham lost no time in 
giving the necessary assistance with a generous hand! 

When he was only fifteen years of age, Ms father Shimon 
made Mm his "Treasurer" of the money he had put aside for 
charitable purposes, and entrusted to him the apportionment 
of this money as he thought fit. 

At the age of eighteen, Abraham married the daughter 
of the Gaon Rabbi Israel, the son of the Gaon Rabbi Shalom 
Schachne of Lublin, the pupil of the well-known Rabbi Jacob 
Pollak of Prague. 

Abraham's bride was named Sarah, and she was as good- 
hearted and hospitable as her husband. She became known 
throughout the whole area for her generosity, charitableness 
and hospitality. They were, in truth, followers of their name- 
sakes in the Torah, Abraham and Sarah. 

When King Sigmund August made Vilna his town-resid- 
dence, he gave orders that the city was to be beautified with 
buildings worthy of his regal presence. 

It was then that the two partners, Shimon and Israel, 
came to Vilna and, in addition to their other places of busi- 
ness, established here a new office. 

They began to build houses and shops and rented them 
out. They also procured orders from the government to build 
houses and mansions for all the ministers and high govern- 
ment officials who would now wish to settle in Vilna. 

The two partners showed their spirit of enterprise by 
bringing from abroad the best architects and builders to be 
had, and the result was most gratifying. They made a mint 
of money out of their venture. It was at this time too, that 
they built the famous Vilna Synagogue. 

After a few years, the two partners decided to dissolve 
partnership, Which they did according to the conditions pre- 
scribed by a "Beth-din" of three. 

Shimon wfas over sixty years of age when he handed over 
his business to his son and two sons-in-law, and devoted him- 
self entirely tjb Torah study and social service. 

Because ^f his most valuable connections with the high- 



est government officials and even with the King himself, 
the Vilna community invited him to become their "interces- 
sor," their mediator between themselves and the government 
whenever necessary. 

Shimon was very successful in his communal work and 
the "Council of the Four Provinces," (under whose auspices 
he was elected) , a body representing all matters of Jewish 
interest and concern, were delighted with their choice of a 

He made the fullest use of his privileged position and 
was able to do many favors to his fellow-Jews. When the 
seat of government was later moved to Cracow, he too fol- 
lowed, so that he should be able to continue with his com- 
munal work on behalf of his co-religionists. 

Abraham was now a busy and successful business man, 
but this did not deter him from carrying on with his work 
of charity which was as dear to him as life itself. People 
used to say of him that not only did he distribute charity in 
the form of money, but he at the same time distributed love, 
which often meant more to the poor and lowly than the finan- 
cial help of which they were so badly in need. Thus it was 
that Abraham earned for himself the name, "The Beloved 

And as lovable and kind as Abraham was, his wife Sarah 
was ten times more so! She put her whole life and soul into 
her charitable work amongst the poor and needy, and was to 
them a "mother" and "sister." 

She used to spend hours every day in the poor slum 
houses of Vilna, tending the sick, encouraging the troubled 
ones, and doing everything for the poor women who lay in 

Abraham and Sarah had two sons, the elder named Sha- 
lom Shachne, and the younger Raphael Shlomoh. When Sha- 
lom Shachne was fourteen years old, his mother took him 
with her when she went to the houses of the poor, for she felt 
he ought to see how the majority of the Jews lived, in poverty 
and suffering. She often bade him change his clothes with 
some poor child, saying: "You know my child, he is much 



more learned in the Torah than you, and as our Sages say: 
'Take care of the children of the poor, for they disseminate the 

Sarah brought up her second son also in the same spirit 
of consideration for the poor and care of them. 

Abraham and Sarah kept an open house for everybody 
in need, and it was indeed a refuge for the poor as well as a 
center for the learned. 

They had a house specially built as a guest-house for way- 
farers, and many people, scholars in particular, readily made 
their way towards it. 

Despite their great wealth, Abraham and Sarah always 
dressed simply and in no way did they ever give anyone the 
impression that they thought themselves superior in any 

Because of Ms father's connections with the government 
officials and officers of high rank, Abraham, too, made their 
acquaintance and they came to him with their business af- 
fairs. Thus he was able to be the mediator between his fellow- 
Jews and these nobles. This was a good thing for the Jews, 
for they were then able to do business with them or rent from 
them their inns, mills, or rivers and lakes for the purpose of 
fishing. They also rented from them plots of land for culti- 
vating gardens and orchards. 

And through Abraham's mediation, hundreds, even thou- 
sands of Jews left the large towns where they had to struggle 
to make a living, and went with their families to the country- 
towns and villages, where they found it much easier to make 
ends meet. 

There arose, however, a new problem out of this emigra- 
tion into the country: the problem of supplying these Jews 
with a sufficiently Jewish environment, as well as seeing that 
their children had an adequate Jewish education, and, in gen- 
eral, to avoid the danger of these Jews losing contact with 
their fellow-Jews in the larger Jewish communities. 

This great and many-sided problem was taken up at a 
meeting of "The Council of the Four Provinces" in Cracow, 
and it was decided to appoint suitable supervisors who would 



undertake to look after these new villagers and be the con- 
necting-link between them and their a father-commiinities >? in 
the towns. Abraham's father Shimon gave a large sum of 
money for this purpose, considering it a very worthy ause, 
which it certainly was* 

Abraham took every opportunity of doing a good turn 
for a Jew, and whenever a "Poretz" (landowner or squire) 
approached him for a loan, he made one of the conditions of 
granting the loan, that the "Poretz" in question promise to 
appoint a Jew as one of his overseers in his estate. 

In every case the appointment proved a great success, 
to the mutual satisfaction of both parties. 

The "Poretz" found that his Jewish employee brought him 
in substantial profits, and was therefore more than ready to 
accept Abraham's "condition" in the future. He, the "Porefcz," 
also told his friends what good workers the Jews were, and 
what fine fellows, so that a double purpose was served: the 
Jews were provided with jobs, and the nobles acquired a good 
opinion of Jews. 

Gradually more and more Jews settled in the villages, 
and little by little, small communities were formed which 
grew and developed into larger communities, when their spir- 
itual as well as material welfare could better be taken care of. 

When Abraham's sons were still young children, he estab- 
lished a kind of "loan-fund" to assist poor Jewish stall-hold- 
ers in the market-place, who were in need of ready cash. He 
trained his sons to see the importance of this form of charity 
so that they should always continue in the philanthropic path 
he had trodden out for them. 


The great philanthropist and intercessor Shimon died 
at the age of eighty-five. In his Will he stated that one quar- 
ter of his wealth should go to charity, and, with the consent 
of his son Abraham, the money should be distributed by "The 
Council of the Four Provinces" as they thought fit. 



The remaining three-quarters he left to Ms son and 
daughters. The son, who was the eldest child, was to- receive 
two-thirds of this amount, but his wife very generously sug- 
gested to her husband that the third which he was to receive 
because he was the eldest child, should go to charity, particu- 
larly for the advancement of Torah-study: By having houses 
of study built, Sifrei-Torah written, supplying the scholars 
with all the books they needed for their libraries, and in gen- 
eral helping Yeshivoth and Talmud Torahs with their re- 

When Abraham's two sons Shalom Shachne and Raphael 
SMomoh grew up to manhood, he married them to wives who 
were ready and happy to follow in the path of philanthropy 
of their husbands and parents-in-law. Their house had ever 
open doors, offering a welcome to scholars, and a refuge to 
all who needed it. 

Little by little the two sons took over the management 
of their father's business affairs, leaving him more and more 
free time to devote to Torah and charity. 

Still, however busy they were kept by business matters, 
they never failed to devote some of their time to charitable 
causes. And their wives were always happy to join them in 
their good work, encouraged greatly by their mother-in-law's 
shining example of unselfish devotion to the needs of the poor. 

Thus it was that the whole family, old and young, gave 
themselves up to the great work of charity. 

The two brothers dispensed charity in individual ways, 
each according to Ms point of view. For instance the elder 
brother Shalom Shachne could never allow Mmself the luxury 
of staying at home, in comfort and warmth during the cold 
Winter nights, when he thought of the poverty and discom- 
fort of the poor Jews of the town. He would theref ore wrap 
himself up well and, arming himself with a bag filled to 
capacity with cash, would set off for the poor quarter of 
Vilna and make his "round." 

In one pla^e he would notice that the wind was blowing 
through a chink in the wall of an old house, in another he 



would see that a new oven was wanted. Here he would ob- 
serve that the roof was leaking, and there he would find that 
the people were in need of food and clothing. And so it would 
go on. 

In every case he would give the poor folk the money for 
the things they needed, with a kind word of encouragement 
which would cheer them out of their misery. And if he found 
that he had not brought enough money to meet the require- 
ments of his "round," he would return home and immediately 
send along the amount he had been short of. 

Now his brother Raphael Shlomoh used to say that it was 
not enough that a person was charitable and gave money to 
the poor. He maintained it was necessary to see that others 
also gave charity. And so, in addition to his own very gener- 
ous contributions, he would arm himself with a box and go 
from door to door asking for money for the poor, 

He would knock at the doors and when the house-holders 
came out he would greet them, saying: 

"Forget that I am the rich Raphael Shlomoh! Imagine 
that I am a poor man who comes to you because he is in 
need of your contributions for the poor, and give as much as 
ever you can spare! And may the Almighty reward you for 
your generosity!" 

And so, because Raphael Shlomoh always used to say 
when going collecting with his box that he was "the poor Ra- 
phael Shlomoh," he earned the nickname the "Rich Pauper." 

Raphael Shlomoh would explain at the same time that 
"he who induces another person to do a good deed is worthy 
of greater credit than the doer/' He felt he was doing the 
best he could by working for charity as well as giving it. 

He used to tell his "customers" that the Almighty wel- 
comed the pence of the poor more than the golden coins of 
the rich. 

His mother Sarah had asked him to total up each day's 
collection and himself add an equal amount for charity. Later, 
his mother also added a similar amount from her own pocket, 
so that the "box-collection" total became considerably swelled. 



The proceeds of the "box-collections'* were put aside by 
Raphael Shlomoh for "Pidyon-Shevuim" (ransom of prison- 
ers). For this was the period when the Catholic priests 
brought libels against the Jews, and it required vast sums of 
money to pay for the defense of these innocent victims against 
the false charges that were brought against them, and to 
obtain their release. 

Abraham and Sarah lived to a grand old age, and when 
they died, they lived on in the charitable deeds of their chil- 
dren and grandchildren who all carried on the family tradi- 
tion of good deeds and philanthropy. 

When Vilna became the center of battle between the 
Russians and the Poles in the year 5415 (1655), the two 
brothers were already advanced in age. Their businesses 
were spread all over the country and were carried on by their 
sons and grandsons. 

As the Cossacks advanced nearer and nearer, the broth- 
ers arranged for the Jews of Vilna to be provided with wag- 
gons so that they could pack their belongings and remove 
with their families to a place of safety. 

The scholars and their families were given "priority." 

In all their rescue work, the brothers had the help of the 
Russian landowner Wolkoff, who owned a large estate near 
Shvintzian. This estate was formerly the property of a Polish 
nobleman, and the transfer of ownership had been arranged 
by the two brothers. They also advanced Mm a loan on easy 
terms and, as was their custom, they had at the same time 
prevailed upon the Russian to engage a Jew to manage his 
estate. The latter had so pleased Wolkoff, bringing him in 
substantial profits, that he had ever since been very grateful 
to the two brothers Shalom Shachne and Raphael Shlomoh. 
On the 22nd day of Tammuz, a day before the Cossacks 
entered Vilna, waggons and carriages arrived from Wol- 
koff to bring the two brothers and their families and what 
they could take along, to the safety of his estate. The 
two brothers were most reluctant to leave the city whilst 
there still remained some Jews in Vilna. But the Gaon Rabbi 



Moshe Rivkes and the Gaon Rabbi Sfaabbathai Cohen told 
them it was their duty to take 'advantage of this opportunity 
and take -refuge where refuge was so readily offered them. 

When the two brothers returned to Vilna in the middle 
of Elul, they found the city in ruins; the major part had been 
destroyed by fire which had raged for seventeen days! 

As if by a miracle, the homes of the two brothers were 
untouched! As though their good deeds had protected them. 
They quickly set about rebuilding the desolate city. They do- 
nated a large sum for this purpose, beginning with homes for 
the poor. 

The first of the brothers to die was Shalom Shachne, and 
his funeral was attended by tens of thousands of Jews and 
non- Jews, who came to pay their last respects to their great 
benefactor and philanthropist- 
Raphael Shlomoh the "Rich Pauper," carried on with his 
work of charity until he felt he could do so no longer on ac- 
count of his age and failing strength. So he called a meeting 
of the heads of the community and the people of means, and 
told them that the time had come when he must give up his 
task of going collecting money for the poor and needy, 

He told them he would only "sell" the privilege of taking 
over the "box-collection" to the highest bidder; the proceeds, 
of course, to go to charity. 

The "buyer" was the wealthy Yerachmiel Cohen who 
stipulated, however, that he was only prepared to contribute 
out of his own pocket, a fifth of the daily total of his col- 

Raphael Shlomoh refused to accept this condition until 
six other people, who were present at the moment, bound 
themselves to contribute the remaining four-fifths, 

Yerachmiel Cohen carried on with the collections for 
thirteen years, going through the streets of Vilna and knock- 
ing at the doors from house to house, with the collection box 
in his hand bearing the words "The Rich Pauper." 

He kept a full account of all the daily totals, which he 
wrote into a ledger. He added the fifth which he had prom- 



ised to contribute himself, and at the end of each the 

other six people who had committed themselves to making 
up the amount of the collection total, came along and con- 
tributed the sum in question. 

The death of the "Rich Pauper" was mourned throughout 
Vilna. The two visitors, the Mystic Rabbi Nachum Tuvya, 
and the young genius of Nemerov, Rabbi Zecharyah Yeru- 
cham, were astonished to learn of the philanthropy of 
Raphael Shlomoh, and of all his family! 



A Plague f Divorces. Jewish Life In Dofjromysf. Influx of 
Torcr^ ScAolars. The C/itefemoitsfroflve father. 


When the two wanderers were in Vilna, Zecharyah Yeru- 
cham learned something more about his companion, the mys- 
tic Nachum Tuvya, He discovered that he originated from 
Polotzk and that he wished to go there from Vilna. 

Zecharyah Yerucham meant to accompany him on the 

Nachmn Tuvya lived an exceedingly simple life. He ate 
nothing more than bread, and drank nothing more than water. 
For Shabbos he made the distinction that instead of brown 
or black bread, he ate "Challah" (white bread). Similarly, 
on "Yom-Tov/' and of course on Pesach he ate Matzo, 
"Maror," and "Charoseth," and drank the "four glasses" of 
wine for the "Sedarim." 

He fasted frequently during week-days. He used to knock 
at the door of a Jewish house, ask for a piece of bread, which 
he used to take with him to the Beth-Hamidrash, and eat 
after "Maariv," followed by a drink of water, and thus he 
began his fast. 

On Fridays, too, he would knock at some Jewish house, 



ask for a "Challah" which, he took to the Beth-Hamidrash, 
and after the "davenning" he would make "Kiddush" over it. 

When they reached Polotzk, Zecharyah Yerucham learn- 
ed that Nachum Tuvya had no family, and that he had been 
in Polotzk four years previously. There he gathered to- 
gether a small group of scholars who used to spend their 
time studying "Kabbalah." They all took upon themselves 
to live the simplest way possible, undergo hardships and live 
in solitude, all for the betterment of their characters. 

Zecharyah Yerucham felt a great desire to join this 
group, but they told him. that they had made a point of ac- 
cepting only married men into their exclusive circle. 

So it was not before Zecharyah Yerucham had married 
the daughter of a fine and respected Jew in Polotzk, that he 
was finally admitted as a member of this "Kabbalah" group. 

In the year 5423 (1663) Zecharyah Yerucham became 
the father of a son whom he named Gabriel. Two years later 
his wife gave birth to a second son whom they called Yechez- 
kiel. When Gabriel was seventeen years old, his father ar- 
ranged a match between him and the daughter of the Rav 
of Dobromysl, the Gaon Rabbi Tanchum Shmuel. 

And three years later he married off his second son. 

Rabbi Tanchum Shmuel was born in Dobromysl in the 
year 5360 (1600). His father, Rabbi Malchiel Zwi, was the 
spiritual head of the congregation, and when he died, his son, 
Rabbi Tanchum Shmuel, aged thirty, stepped into his posi- 
tion as spiritual leader of the community. 

Rabbi Tanchum Shmuel was a great scholar, but was ad- 
mired above all else for his humility and fineness of char- 
acter. He was a very G-d-f earing man and lived a very simple 
life of Torah-study and prayer, fasting practically every day 
excepting on Shabbos. He did not even eat bread, but just 

There were two other remarkable types in Dobromysl in 
the same period, one called "Rabbi Feive the Dancer" (be- 
cause whenever "En K'elohenu" was being sung, he used to 
dance with joy and ecstasy) , and the other was "Chone Tevya 



the Kisser 9 ' (on account of the fact that lie took every oppor- 
tunity of kissing every pair of Tefillin and the Tzitzith of 
all the Tallithim which he saw in the Beth-Hamidrash) . 

Both were disciples of the Tzadik Rabbi Chaim Yitechak,, 

This Kat>bi Chaim Yitzchak was already ninety years 
of age at the time of the "Bar-Mitzvafa" of Tanchum ShmueL 
His father had taken Mm to the grand old man for Ms bless- 
ing. He said that the lad had a "lofty soul/' 

Before he died, the old man related that Elijah had re- 
vealed himself to Tandram ShmueL The latter ultimately 
became the son-in-law of the Scribe Jeremiah, 

Tanchum Shmuel lived with his wife for thirty years, 
but they had no children. Left a widower, he married again 
and lived for twenty years with his second wife, but still they 
had no children. When she died, he married again for the 
third time, and after three years, this wife gave birth to a 
girl who eventually became Gabriel's wife* 

Gabriel's first child was a daughter and his second child, 
a son. When the boy became "Bar-Mitzvah," Zecharyah Ye- 
rucham came to Dobromysl and participated in the celebra- 
tion. He was given great honor as befitted such a brilliant 
scholar. He remained in Dobromysl for a short time before 
returning home* Soon after, his grandson, the "Bar-Mitzvah," 
died to the great grief of his family. 

Gabriel was a great favorite with everyone from the very 
beginning. People loved him for his learning, for his cheerful 
disposition, and for his wisdom. As his father-in-law, the Rav 
of Dobromysl, was getting old and weak, most of the matters 
which he would have attended to were brought to him. Gab- 
riel was a great lover of peace, especially in family-life, 
and so whenever any family disputes were brought to him, 
he always endeavored to find a conciliatory solution. It was 
truly due to his successful handling of these delicate family 
and marriage problems that, since his coming, there were 
much fewer divorces and many more marriages in Dobromysl, 
The population there steadily increased. 

Dobromysl had a name at that time for being a peaceful 



town, but unfortunately not In the case of family-life. Here 
there had been trouble indeed. 

Many wives suspected their husbands of infidelity, and, 
similarly, the husbands listened to tales about their wives, 
carried to them by trouble-making neighbors. Not surpris- 
ingly, all this resulted in a high number of divorces. 

Rabbi Tanchum Shmuel was greatly distressed about this 
unhappy state of affairs, believing that this disruption of 
family-life was a kind of curse. 

When either husband or wife would come to him with 
their tales of woe, and complaints about each other, he would 
lovingly and patiently talk to them, try to show them where 
they were wrong and where they had failed each other. He 
would weep with them in sympathy for their sorrows and 
misunderstandings and, with tears in his eyes, ask them to 
take heed of the sayings of our Sages, warning against 

He especially called their attention to the Talmudic say- 
ing which stated that: "When a man divorces his wife, the 
altar itself sheds tears about it." 

Yet despite all that Rabbi Tanchum Shmuel said or did, 
the misguided couples seemed to take no heed, and the num- 
ber of divorces did not lessen. 

These divorces were a positive ruination to the moral 
and spiritual life of the Jewish community! When an ordi- 
nary Jew became divorced, there was still a possibility that 
the couple would repent, ask each other's forgiveness, and 
remarry. But in the case of a Cohen, of course, it was dif- 
ferent; they were not allowed to remarry. Their proverbial 
hasty nature often proved their undoing. 

Rabbi Tanchum Shmuel would take the situation so se- 
riously, that he often called for fasts and special prayer, so 
that people should realize the gravity of this unrest amongst 
married couples, and try to improve. 

He also called a large number of worshippers to accom- 
pany him to the cemetery for special prayers, but the hearts 
of the "sinners'* remained unmoved, and the divorces contin- 
ued as before, 



Then came Gabriel, his son-in-law, and things began to 
take on a different aspect. Rabbi Tanchum Shmuel saw how 
Rabbi Gabriel seemed to have a different approach to the 
problems brought to him. He had a talent for gaining the 
confidence of those who came with their troubles. He very 
carefully and sympathetically took notes of all the facts, 
sometimes taking several days before he felt he had a com- 
plete picture of the case and the reasons for the trouble. 

Rabbi Gabriel always made a special point of keeping 
each case as private as possible, for thus, he felt, there was 
a much greater .chance of a reconciliation. Otherwise, when 
outsiders got to know what was afoot, one would side with 
the husband, and another with the wife, and the trouble be- 
came so magnified, that the parties in dispute found it im- 
possible to conceive of a friendly solution! 

In the majority of cases, Rabbi Gabriel was able to tell 
the couple that in the course of his several weeks' investi- 
gation, he had ascertained that their worries were unfounded, 
being based on false information they had accepted as being 
the truth. He warned them against jumping to wrong con- 
clusions when people, who had nothing better to do, came to 
them with their mischievous stories. Surely, he told them, 
your "better-half" is a better friend to you than these trouble- 

Rabbi Gabriel was patient and gentle by nature, and had 
a great understanding, sympathy, and love for his fellow- 
beings, and he strove to improve the relations, not only be- 
tween man and wife, but also between a man and his neigh- 
bor, for he knew how often one affected the other. 

He was determined to root out troublemaking gossip 
and slander from Dobromysl, for he knew how such poison 
could ruin a whole community. 

Rabbi Tanchum Shmuel saw the extent of his son-in- 
law's sucess in dealing with the manifold problems brought 
along, and he was indeed happy to be able to pass them into 
the capable hands of Rabbi Gabriel to deal with. 




In the main the Jews of Dobromysl were merchants and 
laborers. Everyone had a large garden, orchard, or allotment 
of land, where the tenant could grow fruits and vegetables, 
more than enough for the needs of his household. 

In addition, they mostly had their own poultry, as well 
as a cow or goat. 

Rabbi Gabriel felt there was a need of "new blood" in the 
community which, he felt, would eliminate much of the family 

And so, whenever he saw that a Jew was looking for a 
husband for his daughter, he talked to him and tried to pre- 
vail upon him to procure a son-in-law from the neighboring 
towns of Lyozshna or Babinovitch. He also urged them to 
look for Yeshivah students as husbands for their daughters, 
explaining that they would be an asset to the community at 
large, and to them in particular. 

Many took the Rav's advice, and thus it came about that 
Dobromysl was privileged to acquire a number of young men, 
well-learned in the Torah, who soon made their influence felt 
in the spiritual uplift of the community. 

Rabbi Gabriel saw a two-fold task before him. First, 
he sought to get the "Baale-Batim" of the town to attend the 
"shiurim" which he had arranged for the newly-wed scholars 
to give. And secondly, he tried to persuade these scholars 
that they should, in addition to their studying, do some man- 
ual labor, as for instance, gardening. In this way he felt that 
they would better understand the people whom they were 
trying to influence morally and spiritually, and would better 
please the Almighty too, for, is it not written: "The study of 
the Torah is better when accompanied by practical appli- 

Rabbi Gabriel also established a Yeshivah in Dobromysl, 
but unfortunately, it did not last for very long. 

Despite the failure of the Yeshivah to continue its exist- 
ence for long, the Jews of Dobromysl, nevertheless, all 
showed a desire to choose Yeshivah students to be their sons- 



in-law. So that In the course of about twelve years, the town 
presented an entirely new appearance in the spiritual field* 
And it was all due to the deep and far-reaching influence of 
Rabbi Gabriel 

People flocked to listen to his sermons, which very often 
dealt with the beauty of peace and purity in family-life, as 
well as about other matters of daily interest and importance. 

Amongst the new scholarly young men who had ar- 
rived in Dobromysl, there was one named Joseph, whose 
father-in-law was a remarkable personality. His name was 
Chaim Yitzehak, who was known either as "Chaim Yitzchak 
the Jester" or "Chaim Yitzchak the Nobleman's," 

He earned the first nickname on account of the fact that 
he took it upon himself to attend all Jewish weddings and 
amuse the Bride and Bridegroom and Mechutanim. He never 
charged anything for his entertainment, whether they were 
rich or poor. He felt it was a great Mitzvah, one which he 
had taken over from his grandfather, a great scholar and 
Tzadik. His grandfather used to spend all his days in the 
study of the Torah, and begrudged any time for anything 
else. The only exception he made was to take time off to at- 
tend weddings and entertain the Bride and. Groom. He was 
a wonderful musician with a most beautiful voice. When he 
used to sing, people simply could not tear themselves away! 

He used to accompany his prayers with the sweetest 
tunes imaginable, but he also took upon himself all sorts of 
hardships such as fasting and spending his time in solitude. 

When he emerged to attend a Jewish wedding, he would 
invariably tie a big hadkerchief over his eyes whilst he sang 
and danced, so that he would not have to look upon the women 
present. He continued entertaining at weddings until he was 
well advanced in years, and then he passed on this Mitzvah to 
his grandson Chaim Yitzchak, who was also very musical. 

The reason for his second nickname was due to the fact 
that he was a constant visitor at the castle of the Nobleman 
("Poretz") of Tevke, about two to three miles distant from 
DobromysL This nobleman always sought Ms advice and 
made no important move without him. 



Chaim Yitzchak's son-in-law Joseph came from Minsk, 
where his father used to manufacture ovens, but not just 
ordinary ovens. His ovens were smoother and better than 
anyone else's. They also retained heat for a much longer 
time. He prided himself on the superior quality of his ovens 
which were so smooth, that one could never find a crack be- 
tween the bricks. 

Joseph's father was a great scholar and a G-d-fearing 
Jew as well as a capable worker, and Joseph inherited all his 
father's talents, both as a scholar and an oven-maker. 
In fact he made such a name for himself, that Jews from all 
over tried to procure his ovens, particularly for the manu- 
facture of Matzos for Pesach. 

Rabbi Gabriel was not slow to take advantage of having 
such an expert in their midst and, calling a meeting of the 
heads of the community, he urged them to see that an oven 
was procured from Joseph, large enough to bake Matzos for 
the whole Jewish population of the city. 

Joseph built the oven for the Dobromysl community, but 
refused to take payment for it. Orders poured in from every 
source, even from the nobles who had heard of Joseph's ex- 
ceptional skill, but he refused the orders, saying he had to 
devote his time rather to Torah-study. 

When he saw how great was the demand and that some- 
thing ought to be done about it, he chose a few suitable young 
men, and taught them the work of oven manufacturing, hoping 
he would himself remain free to devote Ms time to study. But 
the demand far exceeded the supply, and he was reluctantly 
compelled to continue with his oven-making, tearing himself 
away as quickly as he could, to his beloved studies. 

He was a great admirer of their Rav, Rabbi Gabriel, who 
was fast becoming famous for his sermons and lectures. Con- 
gregations from near and far clamored for him to come and 
address them. He was also recognized as a brilliant scholar, 
and people said that he was no less learned than his famous 
father Rabbi Zecharyah Yerucham, with whom he was often 
In communication in connection with Torah matters. 



Rabbi Gabriel's brother, Rabbi Yechezkiel, who lived in 
Polotzk, became the father of a boy, two years after his mar- 
riage. The child was physically weak, but had a very alert 
brain. His name was Zebulun Mordecai. When he was only 
five years of age his father died, so he went to live with his 
grandfather Rabbi Zecharyah Yerucham. 

Rabbi Zecharyah Yerucham was now famous, not only 
as a great Torah scholar, but also as a Kabbalah scholar. For 
he had spent sixteen years studying Kabbalah under the mys- 
tic Rabbi Nachum Tuvya, and another ten years under his 
successor, Rabbi Zundel Joseph. 

The orphan boy Zebulun Mordecai refused to think about 
his weak physique, but studied with zeal and ardor. Besides 
his teachers, his grandfather also taught him, and his en- 
thusiasm was such that he studied not only the Torah, but 
also "Mussar" for the improvement of his character. 

At twelve years of age he was already quite a scholar, 
with a clear idea of the way he should live. He chose to iso- 
late himself from people, the better to concentrate on his 

In the year 5457 (1697) the Gaon Rabbi Moshe (the son 
of Rabbi Mordecai of Posen) , living in Minsk, sent a special 
messenger to Rabbi Zecharyah Yerucham, inviting him to 
accept the post of Rosh-HaYeshivah in his place. Rabbi Ze- 
charyah Yerucham then sent Zebulun Mordecai to his other 
son Rabbi Gabriel in Dobromysl. 

When Zebulun Mordecai arrived there, he seemed to 
shrink into himself even more than before. He was very 
serious by nature, like his father had been before him, and 
since becoming an orphan he was more serious and sadder 
than ever. 

No matter how much his uncle Rabbi Gabriel tried to 
cheer him up and encourage him, he did not respond. He 
avoided everybody, including his uncle's family, and fled to 
a corner of the Beth-Hamidrash, where he studied Torah 
night and day. It was his very life. 

Gradually he made the Beth-Hamidrash more his home 
than his uncle's house, and despite every effort of Rabbi 



Gabriel to make him change his mode of living, he continued 
in his unusual and isolated path. 

About this time, the Rav of Dobromysl, Rabbi Tanchum 
Shmuel, died at the age of ninety-seven, and Rabbi Gabriel 
succeeded him as spiritual head of the community, which he 
had in fact been in practice since his father-in-law had be- 
come old and weak. 

His own father, Rabbi Zecharyah Yerucham, now urged 
him to take his nephew, the orphan Zebulun Mordecai, as a 
son-in-law. This he did, though the lad was but fourteen 
years old at the time. 

But even this did not influence Zebulun Mordecai to alter 
his ways, and after his marriage, he continued to live his 
original and isolated way. 


Only five years after his marriage, Zebulun Mordecai, 
at the still tender age of nineteen, became a widower. His 
wife had borne him no children. His father-in-law and uncle 
Rabbi Gabriel gave him his second daughter to be his wife, 
and she in due course presented him with a son. 

His grandfather, Rabbi Zecharyah Yerucham, meanwhile 
had died, after being Rosh-HaYeshivah in Minsk for five 
years, so the baby was called after him. 

Even the birth of his son did not influence Zebulun Mor- 
decai to change his life of solitude or his attitude of sorrow 
and sadness. He left the upbringing of his child to his wife, 
and his education to his father-in-law. 

Rabbi Gabriel just adored the boy, who was strong and 
healthy, in contrast to his father. His nature, too, was differ- 
ent, for, whereas his father was morose, he was full of mis- 
chief and cheerfulness. He was a bonny lad and as clever as 
he was beautiful. 

Whilst his father showed no apparent interest in his son, 
Rabbi Gabriel devoted much time to playing with the child, 
then later, teaching him as well as examining him in what 
he had learned from his other teachers. 



When the boy reached the age of Bar-Mitevah ? he was- 
quite a student- The boy's grandfather was very proud of 
him, but could not forget how neglectful of Mm was the boy's 
father, and this grieved him very much. 

Zecharyah Yerucham also felt very badly about Ms fath- 
er's unnatural attitude towards him, and one day when he 
was fourteen years old, he felt he could stand it no longer, 
He suddenly burst into the privacy of his father's study cry- 
ing out between his sobs: 

"Father! Why must you be so strange! Why can't you 
behave towards me like any other father to Ms son?" 

Zebulun Mordecai who was really very tender-hearted, 
and his wall of reserve did not mean that he had no f eelings, 
was overwhelmed by his son's obvious distress, and he broke 
down with him. He put Ms arms around his son and asked 
him to believe that a secret sorrow which he had carried in 
his heart since childhood, had driven Mm into solitude and 
away from people, even from Ms own family. But he assured 
his son that he loved him truly, despite the fact that he had 
never before demonstrated it Father and son embraced each 
other warmly and kissed each other, and from that time* 
Zebulun Mordecai came out of his shell and became more 
friendly to his son, spending time with him now and again. 
He even began to talk to Ms father-in-law; the atmosphere 
in the family circle was very much happier in consequence. 

When Zecharyah Yerucham became nineteen years old, 
he married the daughter of the Gaon Eabbi Tuvya Asher of 
Babinovitch and lived there for about a year. 

Rabbi Gabriel and Zebulun Mordecai felt Ms absence so 
keenly, that they persuaded Mm to return home with his wife. 
Soon after their arrival they had a baby daughter. Unfortu- 
nately, in less than three years' time, she became an orphan, 
for her father Zecharyah Yerucham fell ill and died. 

His death had the greatest effect upon his grandfather 
Rabbi Gabriel, who felt the blow so keenly that he became an 
aged man all at once. And whereas up to that time, although 
he was sixty-eight years of age, no one would have guessed 
him to be more than fifty, now he looked indeed an old man, 



walking bent up in double- He no longer felt equal to meeting 
people any more, and burdening them with the sorrow which 
was wearing Mm down. Zebulun Mordecai not surprisingly 
resumed his life of solitude, and both he and Rabbi Gabriel 
said "Kaddish" after their dear departed Zecharyah Yera- 
cham. They also took it in turn to act as "reader" in the Beth- 
Hamidrash and to pray for his soul. 

The whole Jewish community of Dobromysl shared in 
their sorrow and mourning. The first "Yahrzeit" in particular 
was a memorable one. It happened to be in the "nine days" 
which in any case was a period of communal mourning for 
the Jews, and all the synagogues were full to capacity with 

The father-in-law of Zecharyah Yeracham, Rabbi Tuvya 
Asher of Babinovitch, as well as a number of his congregants, 
all came to participate in the "Yahrzeit." 

Rabbi Gabriel acted as "reader/' Zebulun Mordecai and 
Rabbi Tuvya Asher said "Kaddish." Everybody wept bitterly, 
for the sorrows of the Jews throughout history, and in this 
particular case, in mourning for Zecharyah Yerucham. And 
when the congregants saw his little orphan daughter also 
saying "Kaddish," they were very moved. Suddenly a stir 
went up; the little girl had fainted. 

The whole night through, the worshippers "dawened" 
and "learned," and next morning they all marched in pro- 
cession to the cemetery where they said special prayers at 
the graveside of Zecharyah Yerucham, -and then a "Matzevah" 
(grave stone) was set up in his memory. 

Rabbi Gabriel was no longer the same man, and he felt 
himself unequal to the task of continuing in his role as spiritu- 
al leader of the community. He therefore asked his son-in-law 
Zebulun Mordecai to take over his position, but the latter 
refused, and so he appointed his pupil Rabbi Moshe to fill the 
post in his place. 

After three years, Rabbi Gabriel died, and when his Will 
was read it was learned that he wished his son-in-law to be- 
come his successor. This time Rabbi Zebulun Mordecai had 



no choice but to accept, but lie requested Rabbi Moshe to stay 
on as "Dayan." 

So it was arranged that the Dayan should look after the 
needs of the community, leaving Zebulun Mordecai to con- 
tinue with his study of Torah in solitude. He did, however, 
occasionally emerge to give sermons or discourses on the 

About this time, a new and interesting personality made 
his appearance in Dobromysl; one who was later to play an 
important part in the life of the community. This was one, 
named Chaim Shimon, whom Joseph the oven-maker chose 
to be the husband of his orphaned granddaughter. 

You may recall that Joseph refused to take money for 
his oven-making, but earned his living by gardening, and work- 
ing on the land in general. All his leisure time he devoted to 
Torah-study. All his children were married, but unfortunately 
his youngest son died, leaving an orphaned daughter whom 
Joseph took and brought up. 

When she grew up, Joseph made a special journey to 
Minsk to look for a suitable husband for her. There he met 
the aforementioned Chaim Shimon, a gifted young man who 
came from Lyozshna, and was making a name for himself in 
the Yeshivah in Minsk. He had earned for himself a name in 
his home-town too, and because of his activities there, they 
called him "Chvat" (Hero). 



Blood Libels In Lyozshna 

The Smart Boy who Averted a Blood libel. "Neshamah Con- 
dies." Miraculous nd fo Another Blood Libel. 


Chaim Shimon came of a distinguished family. His father 
was a scholar of note and one of the leaders of the commu- 
nity. His mother devoted herself to charitable causes and was 
very good-hearted and generous. 

From early youth, Chaim Shimon was energetic and enter- 
prising, with a real interest in his fellow-beings which he never 
lost in the midst of his studies. 

The very fact that he was a pupil of Rabbi Gedaliah 
Zalman told its own story. For this Rabbi Gedaliah Zalman 
was no ordinary teacher. Everyone knew that he only accep- 
ted such pupils as already knew at least one of the "Babbes" 
perfectly. He was an exceptionally mild man and never raised 
his voice against a pupil, let alone his hand. It was punishment 
enough if he turned his head away from the "culprit." 

He used to teach his pupils to be as gentle as he, both in 
word and deed. If ever he heard one of them raise his voice 
in anger or temper, he used to say it was "the animal" in 

All his pupils loved their teacher, admiring his wonderful 
character as well as his extensive knowledge and his gift 
for teaching. 



Whilst Chaim Shimon combined all the virtues of knowl- 
edge and good traits that Ms teacher Rabbi Gedaliah Zalman 
had instilled into Mm, he at the same time knew his own 
mind and had his own characteristics. 

He always showed a lively interest in the welfare of the 
people around him. It was natural therefore that when the 
Jews of Lyozshna were being persecuted by the Jew-hating 
"Poretz" Nikolaiev, a grandson of General Sheremetiev who 
captured Vitebsk for the Russians, Chaim Shimon made it his 
concern to find out all that was happening. Particularly when 
he heard that this "Poretz" was spreading false libels against 
the Jews, helped by a certain Kuzitzki, a greater fiend if pos- 
sible than the anti-semitic Nikolaiev Mmself . 

In the middle of the month of Shevat in the year 5497 
(1737) there disappeared from a small village near Lyozshna, 
a small Christian boy. 

The Jew-hater Nikolaiev together with his friend Ku- 
zitzki jumped at this opportunity of making trouble for the 
Jews, by charging them with having kidnapped the missing 
boy in order to kill him and use his blood for their Passover. 

The Jews of Lyozshna were terribly distressed at the turn 
of events, and called a meeting of the heads of the Jewish 
community, to discuss ways and means of refuting this hor- 
rible and baseless libel against them. 

Young Chaim Shimon, whose head was full of all sorts of 
plans as to how he could help the Jews in their plight, decided 
he must find a way of being present at the meeting. He knew 
of course that they would never allow him, a young lad, to 
stay and listen to their discussions. So he sneaked into the 
meeting-hall just before the meeting was due to begin, and 
hid himself behind the oven. 

The atmosphere of the meeting was very grave. Each one 
put forward his suggestion, one saying that the only way to 
save themselves was by bribing Nikolaiev. Another recom- 
mended bribing the state authorities. Some said perhaps they 
ought to try to convince their civic head of their innocence, 
but they were afraid that he would more readily believe 



Nikolaiev and Kuzitzki and the false "proofs" they would 
bring, than their own pleas of innocence. 

They could arrive at no solution which they felt to be 
strong enough to save them. They fixed a day for all the Jews 
of the town to fast and pray to GWL 

Chaim Shimon, cramped in his hiding-place for the several 
hours that the meeting continued, decided he must do some- 
thing "off his own bat." 

First of all he made the acquaintance of a clerk at the 
local office of the city-administration, so that he would know 
what was due to take place there; He learned that Nikolaiev 
and Kuzitzki were planning to visit the local governor on the 
following Friday evening, obviously to present their charges 
against the Jews. Knowing that all the Jews would be 
staying at home on Friday evening, they chose this time so 
that they should not be seen by them and try to forestall them. 

Chaim Shimon also learned that in addition to the local 
governor, there were to be four others present when Nikolaiev 
and his friend came. One was supposed to be friendly inclined 
towards the Jews, another the reverse, and the other two were 
neither one thing nor the other. 

On that particular Friday evening, a terrible snow-storm 
raged. After the Shabbos meal was over, Chaim Shimon sud- 
denly got up and told his parents that he must go to his 
friend's house as he had something of importance to discuss 
with him. He warned them that the storm might prevent his 
coming back, so he would spend the night at Ms friend's house 
and they were not to worry. 

They accepted his words in good faith, little dreaming 
what was going on in the fertile mind of their offspring. 

During that day, Chaim Shimon had met his new "friend" 
the clerk, had pushed some money into his hand, and had asked 
him to help him get into the city hall that evening, as he wan- 
ted to be there when Nikolaiev and Kuziteki would make their 
charges to the governor. But he did not tell the clerk the 
reason why he wanted to be admitted, so the clerk jokingly 
asked him: 



"Perhaps you want to be converted? The Priest will be 
there, if you do!" 

Despite the heavy storm, Chaim Shimon set forth with 
firm steps and a determined look in Ms eyes. But when he ar- 
rived at the City-Office, he received a set-back. His friend the 
clerk, was nowhere to be seen and the commissionaire at the 
door turned a deaf ear to all his entreaties and just refused 
to let him in. Chaim Shimon obstinately continued with his 
pleading, so the commissionaire simply took him by the collar 
of his coat and threw him out! 

Chaim Shimon was made of sterner stuff than to be thus 
discouraged. Seeing light shining out of two large windows 
at the side of the building, he made his way towards them and 
looked in. They obviously belonged to the room where the 
meeting was to be held, and sure enough there was the gover- 
nor with several other officials, sitting at a table, and there, 
too, were Nikolaiev and Kuzitzki Chaim Shimon felt he must 
act quickly so as to prevent them working their mischief be- 
fore it was too late. 

So, climbing onto the window ledge, he began banging on 
the window with his fists and calling, out in a loud and pitiful 
voice that he was freezing and would they have pity on him 
and let him in! 

He made such a noise that they heard him even through 
the double windows. They all looked at each other, wondering 
what all the noise was about. The governor called the com- 
missionaire and asked him to admit the person who was calling 
from outside the windows. The commissionaire said it must 
be the boy whom he had just evicted for being a nuisance. But 
the governor insisted nevertheless that he bring him in. 

The commissionaire had no option but to obey, and so 
Chaim Shimori was brought into the presence of the governor 
of Lyozshna and his associates, as he had wished. 

Chaim Shimon, with his graceful appearance and beauti- 
ful eyes expressing honesty, steadfastness, and determination, 
made a very favorable impression upon the people assembled 
there, with the exception, of course, of Nikolaiev and Kuzitzki. 
These two were furious that this bit of a lad should have 



chosen to make Ms untimely appearance, just when they were 
about to bring their charge with the "evidence" to support 
their blood-libel against the Jews! 

"Just like his Jewish impudence," burst out Nikolaiev. 
Chaim Shimon kept silent but threw him a look of scorn and 
disgust which made the anti-semitic Nikolaiev blink, then 
turn away. 

The Priest who was present, thinking here was a golden 
opportunity to catch a convert to his Catholic faith, turned 
to Chaim Shimon, and looking around said: 

"After all we must give the Jews 'their due, and not be- 
little them. They are exceedingly quick-witted and clever. If 
they had a mind to, they could easily come over to our faith 
and make very good Catholics!" 

Here was the time for him to say something, thought 
Chaim Shimon, so he replied: "The Jews are always ready and 
willing to accept the truth from whichever source it comes, for 
they love the truth. But they also expect others to accept and 
recognize the truth and make the same sacrifices for it as they 
are prepared to do." 

Nikolaiev was absolutely incensed, for he realized that 
Chaim Shimon had come to "put a spoke in Ms wheel," and it 
infuriated him to think of such a bit of a lad "getting the better 
of him. 

"You cursed Jew," he bawled at him. But ignoring Niko- 
laiev, the governor turned to Chaim Shimon and asked him in 
a gentle and friendly tone: 

"Tell me, my boy, what has brought you here?" 

Greatly encouraged, Chaim Shimon replied: 

"I have come here to tell you, who are anxious for the 
truth, what I heard this person (pointing at Kuzitzki with his 
finger) saying to that one (pointing at Nikolaiev) this morn- 
ing. I shall also tell you what he replied." 

Everyone looked at Chaim Shimon in astonishment. What 
would he say next? They listened in growing wonder as he 
told them how he had taken it upon himself to shadow the 
Jew-hating "Poretz" Nikolaiev and his friend Kuzitzki since 



they began spreading false stories about the Jews, par- 
ticularly now that they libelled the Jews with kid- 
napped the missing Christian boy. 

Nikolaiev and his friend looked at each other, as if there- 
by they would find some inspiration and know how to deal 
with the unexpected turn the matter had taken. 

But nobody took any notice of them. All eyes were f o- 
cussed on Chaim Shimon as he spoke up in a clear voice 
without any trace of fear* 

"Don't keep anything back/' the governor said to 
encouragingly. "Tell us everything you heard these two men 
say to each other." 

And Chaim Shimon only too readily complied, repeating 
word for word and in detail, what the two conspirators had 
bfc .n plan ang against the innocent and defenseless Jews. 

"This morning," continued Chaim Shimon, "as I walked 
noiselessly and unobtrusively behind the Toretz* Nikolaiev 
and his companion Kuzitzki, I heard the Is rter say to Niko- 

" 'When we go before the civic heads this evening, see that 
you speak clearly and convincingly so that they will be im- 
pressed with the truth of your words!' 

"To which Nikolaiev replied gaily: 

" 'Don't worry, my friend. I feel confident that my story 
will ring true, and that I can put the case so that none will 
even dream that I have made it all up out of my own clever 

" 'Incidentally, friend Kuziteki, I stand to make a pretty 
penny out of this affair. For I am sure the Jews will come 
scurrying along with their bribes, in their endeavors to ap- 
pease me!' " 

As Chaim Shimon told his story, everyone listened with 
eager attention, but Nikolaiev and Kuzitzki could not hide 
their astonishment at the way the Jewish lad had learned of 
their plot. 

The others, the governor and Ms associates, felt somewhat 
confused. What should be their next step? The only one who 



undisturbed Chaim Shimon, who stood there, erect 


The first one to break the silence which followed Chaira, 
Shimon's narrative was the governor* 

"Tell me/' he said to him, "why did you not immediately 
come to me and report what you had heard?" 

"I was hoping that they might after all not carry out their 
threat/' replied Chaim Shimon in a clear voice, "but when I 
came here tonight and saw they were here, I realized that I 
had no alternative but to reveal them to you for the trouble- 
makers that they are!" 

The two trouble-makers suddenly awoke to the fact 
that they had better say or do something to give the lie to 
what the boy had just said, and began vehemently to 
deny that there was any truth in what he had said. They even 
suggested that the Jews of Lyozshna had probably put him 
up to coming to the governor, with this fantastic story so that 
the civic heads would be prejudiced against them. 

At the same time, the two schemers outrivalled each 
other in hurling curses and abuse at the Jews in general and 
at Chaim Shimon in particular. Chaim Shimon stood by un- 
affected and unmoved. He replied so calmly: "As it happens, 
nobody at all knows about my coming here. Not even my 
parents, as I didn't want them to be worried about me. I 
decided on my own initiative to take up the matter, feeling 
that the truth must surely emerge, and that you, the re- 
sponsible heads of the community and its welfare, would seek 
the truth and find it!" 

Chaim Shimon spoke so simply and sincerely, that his 
listeners could not but be impressed by his words. 

The governor told Chaira Shimon to wait in the big wait- 
ing-room whilst he and the Priest went into a private room to 
consider the matter. 

Suddenly the Poretz and his friend burst in on Chaim 
Shimon and with murderous looks in their eyes pounced upon 
him, ready to tear him to pieces! 

But Chaim Shimon was quicker than they, and as they 
sprang towards him, he eluded them by jumping onto a bench, 



and so from bench to bench until he reached the door and the 
safety of the next room, where the three remaining members 
of the Council were sitting, waiting for the return of the gov- 
ernor and the priest. 

Nikolaiev and Kuzitzki* however, were so infuriated that 
even here they did not hesitate to attack the lad. They took 
him off Ms guard and began striking at him with their fists. 
Chaim Shimon, however, was no weakling and did not take 
it passively. He gave Nikolaiev such a blow that it sent Mm 
flying full-length to the floor, and as he fell, he struck his 
head on a bench, which sent the blood streaming from his 

Kuzitzki came in to attack, but Chaim Shimon jumped 
onto his shoulder from the bench where he had sprung, and, 
putting one arm around his neck in a strangle-hold, pounded 
with Ms other fist into Kuzitzki's face. 

Chaim SMmon gave him a good beating before jumping 
behind the three members of the city council, keeping them 
between himself and his two attackers, for safety. 

Nikolaiev and Kuzitzki were rendered helpless, and on 
top of everything, they realized how they had failed to catch 
their prey and had themselves got a beating instead. They 
would have tried somehow to retrieve their lost dignity by 
retaliating on the boy, but at that very moment the governor 
and the priest re-entered the room, having heard the commo- 
tion and wanting to know what it was all about 

Nikolaiev and his friend boldly asserted that Chaim 
Shimon had attacked them when they came into the waiting- 
room for a drink. 

Chaim Shimon denied this, saying the opposite was the 
case, and asked that the attendant of the waiting-room, as 
well as the three members of the council who were witnesses 
of what had taken place, be asked for corroboration of his 
statement But after half an hour's investigation, the governor 
and the priest said they had come to the conclusion that it 
was not proved who had started the fight Their decision, 
therefore, was that the three of them who were involved in 
the fight should all be whipped. Nikolaiev and Kuzitzki to 



receive twenty lashings each, and Chaim Shimon, being a boy, 
to receive fifteen* 

The governor ordered them into the "blind-room/ 5 a room 
without any windows, where the whipping was to take place. 
He also called for the official "whipper," Jan Reus, to prepare 
his whip, which was composed of long, thin and smooth reeds, 
which bent easily as they were swung out. 

When everything was ready, lots were cast as to which 
one should be the first "victim" to be bound to the bench for 
whipping. The lot fell on Kuzitzki who immediately began 
to tremble with fright. For it is a well-known fact that all 
bullies are cowards. 

Nikolaiev also looked terrified, but Chaim Shimon looked 
on calmly, showing no sign of fear or weakness. 

As the keepers began binding Kuzitzki he struggled fierce- 
ly but all he got for his trouble was an extra few blows, for 
they did not intend to stand any nonsense from Mm. They 
pulled off his clothes roughly and unceremoniously, wrapped 
him in a large, wet sheet, and tied him to the "whipping- 
bench" ready to begin the whipping as soon as the order came. 

Before Jan Reus and his assistants were told to begin 
their "job," a clerk came forward with pen and paper and 
asked the trembling and terrified Kuzitzki if he had any con- 
fession to make. He tried to put on a brave face, declaring 
he had nothing to confess. 

Then the "music" started. At a sign from the governor, 
Jan Reus set to with a will! Kuzitzki yelled with pain at every 
lash, and at the sixth, he could bear it no longer and begged 
them to stop. He was ready to talk. 

Jan Reus lowered his hand, and laid down the whip as the 
clerk again came forward with pen and paper, asking Kuzitzki 
what he had to say. It was obvious that he was only telling 
half of the story, so the order was given to continue with the 

Kuzitzki just writhed and squirmed, the sheet was torn 
to shreds and stained with the blood which had spurted from 
his many weals and wounds! 

When the clerk who was doing the counting came to the 



fourteenth. lash, Kuzitzki made a feeble sign Indicating that 
he was prepared to confess. 

Haltingly and gaspingly, he told them that Chaim Shimon 
had told the truth, that all he had said was just as it had 

The clerk took down each word as he uttered it and then 
asked him to sign the confession. Kuzitzki could barely hold 
the pen in his trembling fingers as he wrote his signature, 
and having done so, closed his eyes from sheer weariness and 

Having finished with Kutzitzki, Nikolaiev was brought in. 
When he saw the horrible state that his friend was in, lying 
there on the bench, groaning with pain from his blood-stained 
wounds, he shuddered, and paled. 

He knew that Kutzizki had made a complete confession, 
but he thought he would protect himself by saying his friend 
had told lies, as well as the Jewish boy, but he, Nikolaiev, was 
telling the truth. 

But immediately came the order for him to be whipped. 
Jan Reus approached, tore his clothes from him, and bound 
Mm to the whipping bench, whilst the clerk stood by counting 
the lashes. 

Nikolaiev rent the air with his screams of pain, and at the 
eighteenth lash he yelled for Reus to stop, indicating that he 
was prepared to make his confession. The clerk brought his 
pen and paper and wrote down what Nikolaiev was admitting, 
namely that Chaim Shimon had told the truth, but that he and 
Kuzitzki had lied, though he spoke in such a way as to imply 
that Kuzitzki was more to blame than he himself. 

Both Jew-baiters were now dragged off and thrown into 
jail, where a strong guard was set to watch that they did 
not escape, though in their present condition, sore, weary and 
bleeding, it was hardly likely that they could undertake any 
attempt at escape, 

Chaim Shimon was naturally told that, as he was cleared 
of any charge, he was free to go when and where he pleased. 
In view of the terrible storm still raging out of doors, he asked 
permission to be allowed to spend the night in one of the rooms 



at the City-Council offices. His request was granted, and he 
retired with relief, not merely because his own innocence was 
recognized, but because the Jews of Lyozshna would now be 
saved from the awful charge and danger of the false blood- 

Next morning he returned home in time to accompany 
his father to the Synagogue as on every Shabbos morning. 
As they hurried along, his father did not even think of asking 
what had happened, taking it for granted that his son had 
spent the night at his friend's house. Little did he dream 
what adventure the boy had had, and what a hero he had 


Chaim Shimon "dawened" with his usual concentration, 
and there was nothing in his attitude which could possibly 
arouse comment. 

The matter might have been left as it stood, unknown to 
the Jews of the town, had not one of the heads of the Jewish 
community happened to meet, on the following Sunday, one 
of the men who had been at the City-Office on Friday evening 
and who reported the exciting story of how a young Jewish 
lad had "ousted" the two bullies and Jew-haters, Nikolaiev 
and Kuzitzki. 

A couple of days later, the leaders of the Jewish commu- 
nity, received an official letter from the governor, asking them 
to present themselves at the Town-Hall where they were in- 
formed what they had already learned from the man on Sun- 
day. They were asked to find out who the young hero was 
and to bring him to the governor as he wished to see him 

Everybody now heard about the false charge that had 
been framed by Nikolaiev and Kuzitzki and how the Jews of 
Lyozshna had been saved from a terrible fate by an unknown 
Jewish boy. 

The leaders of the community were in any case, very an- 
xious to find the person to whom they owed, perhaps, their 



very lives. But now that the governor was asking for him. 
it was imperative that they find the boy without delay* 

Chaim Shimon gave no indication that he even knew who 
the boy was, and certainly gave no hint that it was he him- 
self who was the hero they were so feverishly seeking* 

The situation was becoming extremely tense, when the 
Rav announced in Shool that the boy, whoever he was, was 
mistakenly hiding his identity. His continuing to keep his 
secret, even from motives of modesty, was in this instance, a 
crime against the Jewish community* He begged this un- 
known person, therefore, to make himself known without 
further hesitation. 

Chaim Shimon, seeing he had no alternative, went up to 
the Rav and told him it was he who had been at the office of 
the City-Council on Friday evening, and had the good fortune 
to be G-d's instrument in saving the Jews of Lyozshna. 

The following day the heads of the community, accom- 
panied by Chaim Shimon, presented themselves to the gover- 
nor as requested. He patted the boy on the back and praised 
him for his great courage, self-confidence, and heroism. He 
ordered that a further whipping of twenty-five lashes each 
be administered to the wicked Nikolaiev and his ill-starred 
friend Kuzitzki, for insulting him and his friend the Head- 
Priest, by attempting to involve them in their lying plot 
against the Jews. 

The governor called a mass meeting of all non-Jews, and 
made Nikolaiev and Kuzitzki declare publicly, that they had 
made up the story that the Jews had kidnapped the missing 
non- Jewish child with intent to murder him and use his blood 
for their Passover. They had to declare that the Jews were 
innocent, and that in any case it was not true that Jews re- 
quired Christian blood to celebrate their Passover. 

At the same time, the governor took the opportunity to 
warn everyone not to dare lay a hand on a Jew. He said 
Nikolaiev and his friend would pay with their lives if any 
harm came to the Jews of Lyozshna! He asked all honest and 
decent Christians to ally themselves with the Jews in the event 



of a possible attack upon them by some unruly and irrespon- 
sible citizens. 

It is easy to imagine the great joy that swept through 
the Jews of Lyozshna, and how they acclaimed Chaim Shimon 
as "the hero of the hour!" It was then that he earned the 
nickname the "Chvat" (hero) which name stuck to him from 
then on. 

Chaim Shimon, however, was unaffected by all the hero- 
worship, and made known his intention of going to Minsk, im- 
mediately after Pesach, to attend the Yeshivah there. 

It was in the year 5497 (1737) that he made the acquain- 
tance at the Minsk Yeshivah, of two scholars there, who were 
particularly brilliant. 

One was Abraham the son of Rabbi Shmuel, the Rav of 
Posen, and the other was Israel the son of Rabbi Moses of 

Abraham, who was the same age as Chaim Shimon, was 
the exact opposite in his character. Whereas we already know 
what a hero Chaim Shimon was, full of courage and determin- 
ation, Abraham on the other hand, was timid and nervous. 

He was afraid to remain by himself at home even by day, 
and it was out of the question for him to go out alone at night. 
He was positively afraid of his own shadow! But there was 
reason enough for his nervous nature. It was the result of 
the terrible fright that he and Ms family had suffered, due to 
a false blood-libel against the Jews of Posen by the local 
Christians, in the year 5496 (1736). 

Many of the Jews of Posen were arrested and thrown into 
prison where they were tortured unmercifully. The leaders of 
the Jewish community in particular were chosen for the worst 
treatment. The well-known philanthropist of Posen Reb 
Yaakov, hitherto so respected in government circles, and also 
the Gaon Rabbi Arieh Leib the Preacher, were amongst those 

Because of their high position in the community, these 
two were picked out for special punishment. Their punish- 
ment and tortures were indescribable, and despite the worst 



that was done to them, they refused to confess to a 
neither they nor any other Jew had committed. 

And so they were tortured until they died the death 
of Jewish martyrs. 

Abraham's father Rabbi Shmuel was also one of the heads 
of the Jewish community of Posen, and, as such, he stood in 
equal danger of the same cruel fate that had befallen his dear 
friends. But by some miracle, he and his family contrived to 
escape to Lansburg. But the fear of being captured by their 
persecutors made such a wreck of the delicately constituted 
Abraham, that it took a very long time indeed before he com- 
pletely recovered from the effects of the shock. 

Abraham vowed that he would show his gratitude to the 
Almighty, by walking all the way to Minsk, and study at the 
Yeshivah there. Two more young men from Lansburg ac- 
companied him. 

Thus it came about that two young Jews, both victims of 
blood-libels, met at the Yeshivah in Minsk. But with what 
completely different outcome! Both as regards themselves 
as well as with regard to the welfare of their particular com- 


Once, when the two friends Chaim Shimon and Abraham 
were "swopping" stories about their experiences in connec- 
tion with the blood-libel of their towns, Chaim Shimon said 
to his friend: 

"There was another blood-libel that occurred many 
years previously in Lyozshna. I heard about it from the old 
Shamash Yekuthiel. He was great at telling stories, and 
when I was a small boy, you could always find me near Yeku- 
thiel if he happened to be relating something. He had a rare 
gift for making everything sound so exciting and thrilling, 
but then this particular story of the blood-libel was very 
gripping, without need of exaggeration/' 

This Yekuthiel was a well-known figure in Lyozshna. He 
was one of the oldest inhabitants of the town. People knew 
that Moshe the Watchman, who was about a hundred years 



old, and Zlatte Chawe the Midwif e, who was also pretty old, 
were not much older than he. 

Yekuthiel remembered Lyozshna when it was a town of 
not more than thirty-five Jewish families, and his own father, 
Rabbi Eichanan, was the head of the community. 

Yekuthiel also remembered the time when the Russians 
occupied Vitebsk, and all the surrounding districts, which also 
included Lyozshna. That battle took place in the year 5414 
(1654) and he was then past "BarMitzvah." 

Many Jews who were in business, were under contract 
to the Russian government to provide them with their needs 
to carry on the war f and they managed to improve their finan- 
cial position in consequence, YekuthieFs father was also 
amongst these, and when later, Yekuthiel married the daugh- 
ter of Rabbi Mordecai the Scribe of Kalishk, and also went into 
his father's business, he too made some money. 

When the Russian commander Sheremetiev captured 
Vitebsk, he arrested many Jews there. But he did not touch 
the Jews of Lyozshna. Many of the Vitebsk Jews there- 
fore moved with their families to Lyozshna for safety. 

The Jewish community thus increased in numbers and 

Yekuthiel, however, did not approve of the new-comers 
from the "big" town. He deplored their "ostentation/* particu- 
larly among the women-folk, saying it was very harmful and 
led to all sorts -of trouble, the way they dressed so showily. 

He also compared them, to their disadvantage, with the 
wealthy Jews of former Lyozshna. Whereas the older resi- 
dents would give charity, quietly and secretly, the new ar- 
rivals liked to advertise their generosity. 

Yekuthiel would say that the latter did a certain amount 
of good to others when they gave charity, but the former, by 
helping people secretly, did good both to the needy and to 
themselves by their manner of giving. 

He also maintained that it was a mistaken policy to ap- 
peal to their non-Jewish rulers to alleviate their position and 
help them. They would be wiser advised to appeal to the Al- 
mighty, the Ruler over all, by praying, fasting, and improving 



their mode of life in a spiritual sense. Therein lay their only 
hope of salvation, and freedom from trouble. 

Yekuthiel had his own theory that G-d had created Jews 
and non- Jews to be two distinct peoples. G-d had given Esau 
(the non-Jews) this world, and to Jacob (the Jews) he had 
given the world to come. 

But in order to establish a form of existence for Jacob 
in this world, too, he had punctuated his part with "Mitzvoth," 
which were to accompany him wherever he went, and in all he 
did. On the door of his house, he had the "Mezuzah." On his 
apparel he had the "Tzitzith." His field offered him the 
"Mitzvoth" of Leket, Shikchah and Peah. When a Jew eats 
or drinks, he must make blessings before and after partaking 
of the food. In short, he must at every step acknowledge his in- 
debtedness to his Creator as the Owner of the world and all 
that is in it. Should he partake of anything without 
blessing Him, it is as if he had stolen something that did not 
belong to him. Neglect on the part of the Jew towards his 
Maker was the reason for all the troubles that had come upon 
the Jews, Yekuthiel contended, and not until they repented of 
their backsliding, would their sins be forgiven. 

To come back to the story of that blood-libel of long 
ago, Yekuthiel said he had it from his grandfather Rabbi Eli- 
sha, who used to be called "The Sweet one/' because he always 
talked of G-d as "The Sweet Father in Heaven." 

When Yekuthiel's grandfather settled in Lyozshna, there 
were only a few Jews there and they lived in one street which 
was known as "The Jewish Street." 

They were quite happy, each owning his own garden or 
plot of land outside the town, and all on good terms with their 
non- Jewish neighbors. 

Then one day, a new Priest appeared on the scene, who 
was an absolute fiend of an anti-semite! He began to preach 
Jew-hatred to the Christians whenever he had them as- 
sembled in church. Had it been anyone else they would either 
have rebuked him or merely ignored him. But when they 
heard these words from their "holy father," they felt they 



had to respect him and his superior education, and perhaps, 
who knows, maybe there was some truth in what he said? 

So gradually they began to show ill-feeling towards the 
Jews, and even to persecute them. Then as the winter passed 
and Pesach approached, the priest spoke to his "flock" and 
warned them to take care of their children as the Passover 
was near and the Jews would be needing Christian blood to 
dip their "Matzos" into ! The Christians were horrified. They 
had always so enjoyed going to a Jewish home when invited, 
on Shabbos or Yozn-Tov, and partaking of some special deli- 
cacy. And on Pesach in particular, they greatly enjoyed the 
Matzos the Jews offered them. 

The peasants, especially, loved eating at the homes of the 
Jews who, in addition to paying them for looking after their 
cattle, used to ask them to call on Shabbos and Yom-Tov when 
they would be treated to a meal, the like of which the peasants 
had not known. And after the meal, they were usually given 
some extra food to take home with them. This, they often 
sold to the other non-Jews, and always on Pesach they used 
to take basketsful of food home. 

When the peasants were told by the priest that the Matzos 
which they had been eating were dipped in Christian blood, 
and that it was a sin on their part to partake of any food re- 
ceived from the Jews, they came in fear and trembling to 
"confess" their past sins in having eaten the Jews' food. 

The priest found it quite a "paying proposition," for he 
told these ignorant Christians that in order to have their sins 
wiped out, they must bring to the church presents of money, 
grain, eggs, or poultry. 

The situation became so tense with hatred on the part of 
the Christians, and fear on the part of the Jews, that, fearing 
an attack, the 80-year old Rav ordered all Jews to remain at 
home on market-days, except the men who went to davven in 
the Beth-Hamidrash. 

It was a few days after Purim, when armed soldiers sud- 
denly pounced upon two Jews in Lyozshna and arrested them. 
The Rav together with other leaders of the community, inves- 
tigated the matter and were horrified to learn that the two ar- 



rested Jews were being charged with the kidnapping of a 
missing Christian child. 

They were informed that unless the child were returned, 

dead or alive, the two Jews would be treated as hostages and 

killed. Furthermore, if it were not brought back alive, all the 

^Jews of Lyozshna would pay with their lives, and their 

Tidiises" would be razed to the ground! 

Despite his advanced age, the old Rav took upon himself 
to fast for three consecutive days. A number of "Baale- 
Batim" agreed to do likewise, and a whole day of prayer and 
fasting was decreed for all Jews in Lyozshna, young and old, 
Every boy of Bar-Mitzvah age, as well as every girl of twelve, 
and all above these ages, were called upon to join in this 

All Jews, men and women, prepared themselves for this 
"Communal-Fast." The men concentrated their thoughts 
only on spiritual matters, and the women set themselves 
the task of spinning wool to make wicks for special candles. 
They spun a thread for every Jewish soul, man, woman and 
child. Each wick was divided up for ten candles. 

More wool was spun for wicks, but these were for a differ- 
ent purpose. Each thread in this case represented an outstand- 
ing enemy of the Jew. The list was given them by the Rav, and 
included such names as Amalek, Haman, and others who had 
persecuted the Jews through the centuries. These wicks were 
divided up for three candles each. 

On the second day of the Rav's fast, these "Neshamah- 
candles" were brought into the Beth-Hamidrash, and little 
children of six or seven years of age, chosen by ballot, were 
asked to light them. 

Psalm 119 was then recited by the congregation, after 
which the Rav called out that during the day of fasting no 
work should be done, but all those fasting should assemble 
in the Beth-Hamidrash. 

On the third morning of the Rav's fast, the day of the 
"Taanith-Tzibbur," after "Shacharith," all the men of the con- 
gregation went to the cemetery to pray at the graves of 
their great and holy forebears. They made two parties, one 



praying at the cemetery whilst the other kept watch on their 
homes, and then reversing the order. 

After "Minchah," everyone again assembled in the Beth- 
Hamidrash where the Rav preached a sermon, then the whole 
assembly of worshippers said "Vidui" (last confession). 

The Rav and two other old Jews wrapped themselves in 
their "Tallethim" and put on "Tefillin." They stood on the 
"Bimmah" with black candles in their hands, one old man at 
the right of the Rav, and the other on his left. The Rav, in 
solemn tones, announced that the three of them stood there 
as the counterpart of the ' 'Heavenly Court. 5 ' 

Then the Chazan, Isaiah, and the Warden, Baruch, also 
joined them on the Bimmah. The Ark was then opened and 
the Warden blew the Shofar. The Chazan began to chant 
Psalm 79, and the congregants repeated each verse after him. 
Then the Warden again blew the Shofar, and this was followed 
by Psalm 140. 

Lots were cast, and four men chosen to take out four 
"Sifrei-Torah" from the Holy Ark. They carried them around 
the Beth-Hamidrash and every one touched the Sefer-Torah 
and kissed it. Then the Scrolls of the Torah were taken up 
to the Bimmah, the Rav took one of them, and from a sheet 
of parchment he read out, slowly and impressively, a terri- 
ble curse against any and everyone connected with the kid- 
napping of the Christian child. 

The Rav then requested that the "Sifrei-Torah" be re- 
turned to the Ark, with the exception of one, which he asked 
the Shamash to take to the door. He then called out that 
the women should come down from the gallery to kiss the 
Sefer-Torah which had been taken to the door for the purpose. 

When the fourth "Sefer-Torah" had been returned to the 
Ark, "Minchah" was "dawened," then "Maariv." Then, heavy- 
hearted and heavy-eyed, the sorrowful congregants slowly and 
sadly made their way home. 

Although the fast was now over, the Rav had announced 
that no meat should be eaten during the week or on Shabbos, 
until the trouble would all be over. 

The Rav and his fellow-fasters of three days' duration 



broke their fast with but a crust of dry bread and a drink 
of water, and then continued fasting as before. 

On the following Shabbos, two days later, the Rav and the 
leaders of the community were called before the Chief of 
Police. There they also found the priest who had caused all 
the trouble for the innocent and helpless Jews. 

The Jews were again warned that if they did not produce 
the missing boy by Tuesday, revenge would be taken by kill- 
ing all the Jews in Lyozshna! 

The priest had the gross impertinence to command the 
Rav to kiss the crucifix that was hanging on a chain around 
his neck. 

But the Rav, with a withering look upon the priest, told 
him that an honest person who really respected and believed 
in his own religion would never force anyone to do something 
contrary to his own belief! 

The priest was white with fury at the contemptuous reply 
of the proud and dignified Rabbi, but he could find no suitable 
repartee quickly enough, and remained silent. 


Meanwhile, the priest sent out special messengers to all 
the Christians in the town and surrounding villages, calling 
them to a special service for the next day, Sunday* 

A huge assembly gathered in the church, anxious to hear 
what their "holy" father had to say to them. In a long and 
rambling sermon he again reminded them that they must 
know that the Jews used Christian blood for their Matzoth 
for Passover. He also reminded them that it was now over a 
week since a Christian child had disappeared and he had no 
doubt whatsoever that this was the work of the wicked Jews ! 

He spoke in "heartbroken" tones, saying he was a sick 
man due to this terrible event, but that because of the im- 
portance of his having to address them he had come to church 
instead of staying in bed at home. 

His soul-stirring eloquence was unexpectedly cut short 
by a commotion at the back of the church and every eye 
turned to see who was responsible for the interruption. 



They saw a peasant coining forward, calling to the priest 
as he advanced, that he had brought an important message 
for him. 

The priest, unsuspecting, allowed the man to come 
forward. The peasant then in loud, ringing tones, spoke up. 

"Father," he called out, "I have come from a friend of 
mine from my village. A few days ago he suddenly 
became unaccountably ill and died. But before his death he 
called me and begged me to take this message to you. He 
said: 'Tell the priest that I did all he told me to, and I want 
to remind him of his promise that when I die I will go straight 
to heaven! Tell him that I kidnapped that Christian child, 
exactly as he told me to, and that he is still safely in hiding 
at my brother's house!' So you see I came without delay as I 
promised my dying friend I would," 

The priest was taken completely by surprise. What was he 
to do with this stupid peasant who had no more sense than to 
come blabbing right in the midst of his congregants, this 
Sunday morning? 

Trying to appear calm and innocent, the priest burst out 
with the words: "Throw this drunkard out of the church! 
How dare he come disturbing the holiness of the service!" 

The poor peasant was pounced upon from all sides and, 
beaten and bewildered, was bundled out of the church. 

When he reached the outside, he continued in bewildered 
tones to a crowd of people who had gathered around to see 
what was going on: 

"I don't know why the priest was angry with me! I only 
told him what my peasant-friend asked me to tell him. Is it 
my fault that the Christian boy was kidnapped by my friend? 
The priest told him to do it, so why is he so angry now when 
I tell him that his orders were carried out? I don't under- 
stand it, indeed I don't!" And the peasant shook his head 
and shrugged his shoulders as he brushed himself tidy again 
before going on his way. 

The peasant had not noticed that amongst the group of 
people listening with interest to his story, was a policeman 
dressed in his Sunday clothes. 



This policeman who, incidentally, was a friend of the 
Jews and had never believed the nonsense that the priest was 
spreading, that the Jews used the blood of a Christian child 
to mix into their "Passover cakes/' decided to follow the 
peasant to his village and look for the missing boy. 

He motioned to two of his friends to accompany him, and 
the three men walked at a distance behind the peasant. 

When they reached the village, they found that there was 
a commotion going on near a small peasant-hut. They went 
up to ask what the trouble was, and were told that the peasant 
who lived there had suddenly taken ill and without any warn- 
ing had collapsed and died. 

The policeman and his two companions joined the yil- 
lagers who were excitedly entering and leaving the hut, when 
to their astonishment they beheld the boy for whose disap- 
pearance and "murder" the Jews were being blamed, 

The policeman experienced a double sense of relief and 
satisfaction. He was genuinely glad to be able to help his 
Jewish friends and prove the false priest a liar and a rogue, 
and it pleased him to think that he had been successful as a 
detective, which would probably mean promotion for him in 
his job. 

Meanwhile, in the city of Lyozshna, the priest continued 
to keep up the appearance of innocent indignation, and was 
urging his "flock' 5 to join him in a house-to-house search of 
the Jews for the missing boy. 

The Jews, hearing of this, knew it could result in only 
one thing, a massacre. 

They decided to assemble in the Beth-Hamidrash and pray 
to the Almighty that a miracle might even at this late hour 
occur, which would prove their innocence and save them from 
a horrible death. 

The Policeman and his two friends had now reached the 
office of the Chief of Police, taking the boy, whom they had 
found in the village, with them. 

The Chief of Police immediately conducted the "party" 
to the center of the Market-place and sent word to the prison 
warden to release the two wrongly charged and arrested Jews. 



Within a few moments, the two Jews appeared with a police- 
man at either side of them. 

Someone happening to see them jumped to the natural 
conclusion that they were being led to their death, so the 
rumour reached the Rav at the Shool that the two Jews had 
been sentenced to death and were on their way to the Beth- 
Hamidrash accompanied by the Police. 

The truth, of course, was that the Chief of Police 
had decided to publicly announce in the Market-place 
that the Jews were all innocent. The Christian child had been 
hidden by peasants on the instructions of the priest. It was 
entirely untrue to say that the Jews used Christian blood in 
their "Passover-cakes." Finally he warned everyone that 
whosoever would dare lay a hand on a Jew would be punished. 
He further announced that the two Jews were free, and, 
to show his good-will, he was going to accompany them to 
the Synagogue and make an official and public apology to the 
Rav and the leaders of the Jewish community for the wrong 
done them all by the false charges brought against them. 

When they reached the Beth Hamidrash, one of the 
"Baale-Batim" immediately approached the Chief of Police 
and, without giving him a chance to utter a word, immediately 
began pleading with Mm to allow them to "dawen Minchah" 
and say "Vidui" before their death. 

The Chief of Police smiled at him saying: "My friend, 
I have not come to do you any harm. Enough has been done 
you already. On the contrary, I have come to make a public 
apology to you all for the wrong and wicked charge brought 
against you. The missing child has been found by one of 
our policemen and the blood-libel has been proved a myth. 
I am taking all necessary steps to see that the Jews of 
Lyozshna will be properly protected. I have given warning 
that all who attempt to molest the Jews will be punished by 
hanging, so you should all now feel free to go your way 

When the priest heard that the Christian child had been 
brought back into town completely unharmed, and that the 
story was being told that he was at the bottom of the child's 



disappearance in order to bring trouble and death to the 
Jews, he tried to twist the matter round, by saying that it was 
another plot on the part of the wily Jews. They were afraid 
to bring the child back in the ordinary way, as that would 
prove their guilt in having kidnapped him. They had there- 
fore bribed the policeman and his two companions to tell this 
story and thus throw the blame on him, the priest! 

No sooner had the priest finished talking, than he fell in 
a swoon near the altar, from where he had been addressing 
his congregants. 

His confused "flock" rushed to his aid. He was carried 
home and put to bed, where he lay in terrible agony for two 
weeks, and then he died. 

Everyone, Jew and non-Jew, saw how every person con- 
nected with the frame-up against the Jews had come to a 
bad end. 

Rabbi Yekuthiel who told and retold this story (which 
Chaim Shimon always listened to as if he, too, were living 
through the terrors and joys of the Jews in the story) always 
ended by saying: 

"You probably think that this story happened long ago 
and could not possibly happen here. Well, you are wrong. 
Jews always lived through terrible times and will do so again. 
The difference, however, lies in their reaction to their trouble- 
some times. In those days, whenever Jews found they had to 
face trouble, their immediate reaction was to apply self-an- 
alysis, see wherein they had sinned, and try to repent and 
improve their character. 

"Nowadays, though/ if Jews are faced with trouble and 
disaster, they do not first pray to G-d to help them, but turn 
to so-called "leaders" to intercede for them with the govern- 
ing powers, believing that there lay their salvation! 

"How misguided are these present-day Jews. That is 
our misfortune!" 

When Chaim Shimon talked about this matter with Abra- 
ham at the Minsk Yeshivah, he told him that he had come to 
the conclusion, and Abraham agreed, that whilst the circum- 
stances might vary, the Jews would always experience times 



of difficulty and trouble, but that there would always be the 
right kind of Jews who would step forward in the emergency 
and save them from the impending disaster. 

Chaim Shimon and Abraham both felt that they could 
learn much from Yekuthiel's story, as well as from their own 
unforgettable experiences. 

The former was also greatly influenced by his third friend 
at the Yeshivah, Israel 

Israel was a remarkable young man. Not only was he 
a brilliant Torah-student, but he also had a very great 
knowledge of mathematics and astronomy. He was, in addi- 
tion, a very gifted wood-carver. 

Before he came to the Yeshivah in Minsk, Israel had been 
a student for four years at the Yeshivah of the Gaon Rabbi 
Mordecai Tachles, in Berlin, and it was there that he had 
learned and acquired all these arts. For two years he had 
been engaged in building a miniature "Beth-Hamikdash," the 
size of which was two by two cubits. 

Chaim Shimon had long had a desire to study mathe- 
matics and astronomy, and so was happy to take advantage 
of his friend Israel's offer to teach him. Their friendship 
thus strengthened and grew. 

During his stay at the Minsk Yeshivah, Chaim Shimon 
had the misfortune to lose both his parents, one after the other. 
His friends felt his sorrow keenly and tried to comfort him by 
their friendship, and by trying to occupy his mind in a con- 
structive manner. 

It was, therefore, a great help to him that he threw him- 
self so completely into his Torah study, as well as into Ms 
efforts to become a good mathematician, with his friend's able 

Israel married in Minsk and became the son-in-law of a 
certain Shmuel Zanvil, who made his living by brushing flax. 
He was actually a recognized Torah scholar, but he preferred 
to earn his living by working. Whenever he was busy brush- 
ing the flax, he invariably revised a "Mesichtah." 

Israel admired his father-in-law and approved of Ms way 
of life and decided he would follow in his footsteps. He re- 



membered that when he was in Berlin he had seen a machine 
for making "Volikes" (felt snowshoes), so he set about 
making one himself from memory, and succeeded in getting 
excellent results. 

With his own manufactured machine he began to manu- 
facture these overshoes, and immediately earned more than 
sufficient for his needs. 

Later on, when Chaim Shimon, too, chose a wife and 
thought about settling down, he asked Israel to teach him 
this craft so that he, too, would be able to earn his living 
this way. 

Before marrying the granddaughter of Rabbi Joseph of 
Dobromysl, Chaim Shimon stayed on for another year at the 
Yeshivah in Minsk, during which time he managed to learn 
from Israel how to make snowshoes, and he also learned how 
to set up the machine for their manufacture. 




The Young Man who Could Not Tolerate Comceff. The Scribe 
of Dobromysf. Sacred Trust. 


Chaim Shimon decided to stop in Lyozshna on his way 
to Dobromysl, to visit the graves of his parents, and also to 
look up his old friends and acquaintances. Amongst them he 
naturally visited his old friend Yekuthiel who was now old 
and frail, too weak to carry on with his duties as "Shamash," 
which his assistant had, therefore, taken over. 

"Once I used both to talk and act, but now I cannot prac- 
tise what I preach; I can only talk, and must leave the work 
to others," Yekuthiel said with a sigh when Chaim Shimon 
visited him. "I have not the strength I used to have." 

After Chaim Shimon married and settled down in Dobro- 
mysl, he set up his machine for making snowshoes, and before 
long he made quite a name for himself. People came to him 
from near and far, for his snowshoes were becoming famous. 

He was a friendly man, interested in everybody and 
always yeady to lend a sympathetic ear to everyone's stories 
of joy, sorrow, or problems. People found him so helpful 
that they began to make a practice of coming to him for 
advice, which they always found sound and well-considered. 

Although he was still a very young man, he was unani- 
mously voted as the representative of the Jewish community 



to speak on their behalf In every case when It was necessary 
to approach the governor of the town. They began to address 
him now as Rabbi Chaim Shimon and were proud and happy 
to have him in their midst. 

His father-in-law, Rabbi Joseph, had long since given 
up manufacturing ovens, and earned his living from the pro- 
duce of his gardens and fields, but he himself had given up 
the physical work even here, and spent all his time studying 
the Torah and "dawening." 

He often used to doze off for an hour or two in a small 
room in the Beth-Hamidrash, and when people used to see 
him lying on the hard bench they teased him saying: "If you 
want to sleep, why not go home and sleep comfortably in your 
own soft bed? Why lie here on such a hard bench?" To 
which he would reply: 

"I shall never forget that I used to sleep regularly on a 
hard bench, when I was a young Yeshivah student. Don't 
you know that the Torah urges us as follows: 'Eat a piece 
of bread dipped in salt, drink a measure of water, and sleep 
on the ground.' You see, if you become too fussy, you cannot 
succeed in your studies!" 

Rabbi Joseph and Chaim Shimon were very good friends 
indeed. They admired and loved each other and spent 
hours together in Torah-study. But one thing used to 
upset the old Rabbi Joseph, and that was when Chaim Shimon 
would "fly" at someone who happened to be boasting. Rabbi 
Joseph disliked boasters as much as Chaim Shimon did, but 
he felt that Chaim Shimon ought to keep his own feelings in 
the matter more in check. It was not "seemly" for such a young 
man to reprimand older men than himself, even under provoca- 
tion, he would tell him. For Chaim Shimon, who was generally 
calm, kindly, and sympathetic by nature, was completely in- 
tolerant when it came to meeting anyone conceited or boast- 
ful, be he however great in other respects! 

Rabbi Joseph and he would have heated arguments over 
this "thorny" point. Chaim Shimon would quote his old friend 
Yekuthiel who used to say: "Proud and conceited people are 
intolerable! Remember King Pharaoh's boastfulness and con- 



ceit when he said, 'Who is this G-d of Israel? I know him not!' 
That is why G-d sent the ten plagues upon him as punishment, 
and destroyed him and his army in the Red Sea. And re- 
member the bad end that Korah came to through his ex- 
cessive pride!" 

Whilst Chaim Shimon was generally very popular, he cer- 
tainly did not endear himself to those whom he rebuked so 
sharply and unceremoniously when he heard them boasting! 
Whenever Rabbi Joseph tried to convince Chaim Shimon 
that he ought to refrain from this "weakness" of his, the latter 
would always bring quotations from our sages supporting his 

"See, dear father-in-law, what we find in the Talmud 
(Sanhedrin, p. 101) : 'Rabbi Nachman said that the pride 
which was in Jeroboam drove him out of the world!' You 
see that pride is the worst trait in man and leads to all sorts 
of evil; it desecrates the Torah. So how can one forgive any- 
one who would do such a terrible thing? The Talmud de- 
scribes the scholarship of Jeroboam in Sanhedrin p. 102, re- 
ferring to verse 18 in Kings : 'The Prophet Achijah Hashiloni 
met him (Jeroboam) on the way and the latter was wearing 
a new robe. They were both alone in the field/ 

"The Talmud then asks: What is meant by a new robe? 
To which Rabbi Nachman replies : 'As a new robe is perfect, 
so perfect was the Torah-study of Jeroboam!' Another tries 
to interpret it: 'As this new robe has never previously been 
seen, so is it with the scholastic achievemtns that he had made 
and which had never before been heard of/ Then it is further 
asked: What is meant by the words 'They were both alone 
in the field' ? To which the answer is given by Rabbi Judah 
who said: 

" 'All other scholars were as the grass of the field in com- 
parison with them/ Another interprets it so: 'As the field 
was clearly revealed to them so also was every facet of the 
Torah/ " 

Then Chaim Simon would conclude his arguments thus : 
"It can therefore be seen what pride leads to! For all 
the greatness of his Torah-learning did not help Jeroboam. 



He became a sinner and caused others to sin, bringing evil 
upon himself and upon his fellow Jews/' 

With such convictions firmly implanted within him, it 
was impossible to get the generally mild Chaim Shimon to 
restrain himself when coming in contact with anything re- 
sembling pride and conceit! 

Despite this one difference of opinion between Rabbi 
Joseph and Chaim Shimon, they continued to be the best 
of friends, greatly attached to each other. The latter was 
also a great favorite with the vast majority of people in 
Dobromysl, and this continued until something happened one 
day, the scene being the baths in Dobromysl 

The "Merchatz" (Baths) in Dobromysl, like that of any 
other town or townlet, was an important institution. Twice 
weekly, on Wednesdays (for women) and on Fridays (for 
men) the place hummed busily, like a market-place! 

On other days of the week, the Baths would only be very 
slightly heated, just enough to warm the water for those 
who wished to use the "Mikvah." 

Rabbi Joseph, in his youth, had installed one of his 
famous ovens at the Baths, which, after having but a few 
bucketfuls of water poured onto it, gave out such terrific 
steam, that whoever might be steaming himself on the top step 
in the Steam Room, very hurriedly had to descend to a more 
bearable position. 

In view of the fact that the cistern there was not very 
large, there could only be a limited supply of hot water at 
one time. Furthermore, as it was a recognized practice that 
each bather was entitled to at least five bucketfuls each, it 
was obviously out of the question to allow unrestricted at- 
tendance at the baths. 

It was, therefore, so arranged that people came according 
to fixed times, in rotation, so that everyone had a turn. 

Thus it came about that the same group of people always 
met whenever they attended the baths. 

At that time, Dobromysl was honored by the presence of 
the old and famous scholar Rabbi Betzalel, who had come from 
Rasosne to visit his son's son-in-law Rabbi Joshua Feitel 



the Scribe, Rabbi Betzalel had isolated himself for over 
forty years, in order to devote himself completely and un- 
disturbed to the study of the Torah. He had earned a name 
for himself as a brilliant scholar and a G-d fearing Jew. He 
was renowned, too, for his purity of character, for the fact 
that he never uttered an unnecessary word, and in general 
for his careful observance of all "Mitzvoth/* 

He always examined the "Parshioth" of his Tefillin and 
the letters in his "Mezuzoth" with a magnifying glass, to make 
sure that the letters had no white specks, but completely 
filled in with ink. He would also measure his Tefillin daily, 
to make sure that the "Shel-Rosh" and "Shel-Ya<?" had not 
become out of shape but had kept their squareness intact. 

He also took the unusual precaution of appointing some- 
one to stand and watch him all the time he was davvening> to 
make sure that his "Shel-Rosh" and "Shel-Yad" did not get 
out of place. 

Rabbi Betzalel showed the greatest respect to- scholars 
recognized for their learning, and saw to it that others should 
carry out this "Mitzvah" too, for he regarded it highly. On 
this basis, therefore, he felt that he ought to attract attention 
to his own great scholarship, so that people would have the 
opportunity of paying respect to his Torah-knowledge and 
thus earn a "Mitzvah." So Rabbi Betzalel, who was now over 
eighty years old, commanded a great deal of respect in 

Rabbi Betzalel went to the "Merchatz" on Friday, and here 
too, everyone paid him exceptional respect. A special place 
was allotted to him and everyone stood up at his entrance. 
Chaim Shimon also happened to be there on this occa- 
sion, and whilst he knew that it is not necessary to stand up 
as a sign of respect to anyone, when one is at the Baths, he 
stood up together with the others who were all ordinary men, 
unacquainted with the Talmudic ruling laid down in Kidu- 
sfain p. 33. (There the distinction is made that in the rooms 
where people are clothed, they may discuss Torah and must 
show respect to Torah-scholars, but in those rooms of the 
Baths where people are naked, engaged in bathing themselves, 



it is forbidden to discuss Torah, and unnecessary to show 
respect to scholars by standing up at their approach or in 
their presence), 

Chaim Shimon saw no harm in doing as the others 
did, by standing up when Rabbi Betzalel entered, for he did 
not wish to enter into a discussion with the people present, 
as that would have entailed Torah-talk, which was forbidden. 

It so happened that there was a shortage of hot water 
and a man started to shout to the attendant: "Hey there, bring 
some hot water and hurry, it's for our distinguished Rabbi 

Two Jews who were standing in the corner washing them- 
selves looked towards Rabbi Betzalel, who did not seem within 
hearing range and one said to the other: "You know, this 
Rabbi Betzalel has lived in isolation for forty years, studying." 

Evidently Rabbi BetzaleFs hearing was better than they 
thought, for he called out to them: "Actually it was not forty 
years, but forty-seven years that I studied in isolation and 
what is more, I never took a step outside of it from the day 
I began this particular way of life!" 

Chaim Shimon heard this, and his blood boiled to 
hear such self-praise from one whom he felt should know 
better! But he kept a tight hold on himself. He did not want 
to say anything to the old Rav in the presence of the others. 
However, he approached Rabbi Betzalel immediately after 
he had dressed himself in his corner of the dressing-room, 
and Chaim Shimon had also dressed himself. 

"Rabbi," he said, "I should like to ask you something if 
I may?" 

"What is it you want to know?" Rabbi Betzalel asked. 

"It seems to me," went on Chaim Shimon, "that you do 
not interest yourself in the injunction of our Tanaim, Amo- 
raim, and Geonim that we should not at any time display any 
sign of conceit. When you heard those two Jews in the Baths 
say that you had spent forty years in isolated study, you were 
not satisfied with their praise, but took the opportunity of 
pointing out that you merited still greater praise, as you had 
actually studied in isolation for forty-sewn years! And fur- 



thermore, that you had never turned aside from your way of 
life since the day you began! Is this self-praise justifiable, 
and is it not a sign of boastfulness and conceit? 

"Surely you must know that the Gaon Rabbi Arieh Leib, 
the Head of the 'Mesifta' in Minsk, used to explain and elab- 
orate upon the saying of Rabbi Judah in the name of Rav 
(Baba Bathra, p. 98) that 'Anyone who pretends to be a great- 
er scholar than he is, is not entitled to enter G-d's Mechitzah" 

Whilst Chaim Shimon was talking rather heatedly to 
Rabbi Betzalel, for Chaim Shimon was genuinely upset, and 
even angry at the display of boastfulness on the part of the 
old scholar, people had come in and listened to Chaim Shimon's 
outburst in some astonishment! They did not understand all 
he was saying, but they felt that it was something of an im- 
pertinence for such a young man so to^.address an .old and 
respected scholar. 

Others, who had grasped that Chaim Shimon was re- 
buking Rabbi Betzalel for having spoken up in his own praise, 
felt that the former had probably gone beyond his rights, but 
secretly they thought that he was not entirely in the wrong 
in his condemnation. 


One of those who stood by listening was Rabbi Joshua 
Feitel the Scribe, the husband of Rabbi BetzaleFs grand- 

This Rabbi Joshua Feitel was fanatically "froom" from 
his earliest youth, spending all his time in the Beth-Hamid- 
rash. He was a pupil of Rabbi Gabriel's Yeshivah in Dobro- 
mysl, and it was at his suggestion, that he became a "Sofer." 
Incidentally, Rabbi Gabriel was also his "Shadchan." 

Rabbi Petachyah Meir it was who taught Joshua Feitel 
the art of being a "Sofer," teaching him also how to make 
"Batim" for "Tefillin." He studied under him for fifteen 
years, not only learning how to be an expert "Sofer/' but 
also to emulate his lofty character and pious life. 

When his teacher died, Rabbi Joshua Feitel succeeded 



him, but being a modest person, and considering himself far 
below the standards of his illustrious master, he came to Rabbi 
Gabriel with tears in his" eyes, begging him to release him 
from the great responsibility which would be his if he were 
to become a "Sofer." He pleaded he was unworthy of pro- 
viding his fellow Jews with "Sifrei-Torah," "Tefillin," and 
"Mezuzoth," as he was but an ordinary person and would be 
better employed earning his living by some other means, 
more suited to his. standard. 

After much talk and persuasion, Rabbi Gabriel succeeded 
in extracting a promise from him that he would consider the 
matter, but Rabbi Joshua Feitel stipulated that he would only 
accept the important tasks of a "Sofer" if someone would 
stand by and constantly remind him of the holiness of his 
undertaking, and of the way his teacher Rabbi Petachyah 
Meir used to put all his soul and conviction into his sacred 

Whilst Rabbi Joshua Feitel was still hesitating about 
beginning his work, he had a dream in which his beloved and 
respected teacher appeared before him, telling him he should 
become the Scribe of DobromysL 

Rabbi Gabriel chose as Rabbi Joshua Feitel's assistant, 
Rabbi Shemaya "The Lame One," who was a G-d fearing Jew 
and a great scholar. 

Rabbi Joshua Feitel lost no time in teaching Rabbi She- 
maya the "Dinim" which a "Sofer" should know. Then he 
told him in great detail how his former teacher used to con- 
duct himself in general, and in particular in relation to his 
sacred work : how he used to bathe in the Mikvah, fast, and re- 
peat to himself several times that the work in which he was 
engaged was a holy work and required his best services. He 
used to prepare the parchment with the greatest possible care, 
as well as the pen and ink with which he wrote the scrolls. 

He told Rabbi Shemaya all this, so that he should know 
that this was the high standard Rabbi Joshua Feitel had also 
set himself, and he should therefore be on the lookout for any 
possible failing on the part of Rabbi Joshua Feitel, whilst 
he was engrossed in his work. 



Still, the latter delayed beginning his tasks as a Scribe, 
whilst he set himself no less than one hundred and twenty 
(three times forty) fasts, rarely leaving the Beth-Hamidrash 
night and day. And only then did Rabbi Joshua Peitel feel 
himself worthy of becoming a "Sofer." 

One can well understand, therefore, how Rabbi Joshua 
Feitel, hearing the words of reproach from the lips of Rabbi 
Chaim Shimon, should immediately, in his saintly way, ex- 
amine his own character and see if the reproach was not also 
deserved by himself. 

He decided without hesitation that he too, had been guilty 
of the sin of boastfulness, pride, and self-esteem. Had he not 
on numerous occasions praised his handiwork to his assistant 
as well as to his various customers? 

That Shabbos, he could find no rest, and as soon as Shab- 
bos was over, he went off at once to the Dayan, Rabbi Moshe 
David, told him of his "sin," and asked him to tell him what 
form of penitence he should take upon himself. The Dayan, 
having listened very carefully, told him he had committed no 
offense and required no form of penitence for his exemplary 
behavior. But Rabbi Joshua Feitel was not satisfied to accept 
this easy judgment, and inflicted upon himself his own "pun- 
ishment," fasting and praying to wipe out his transgression. 
He had told the Dayan that, apart from the fact that he felt 
himself no longer worthy of the sacred tasks of a "Sofer," 
he in any event wished to give up the work as his eyesight 
was failing and he was afraid of making mistakes in his 
writings. He recommended Rabbi Shemaya as worthy in every 
way of becoming the Scribe of Dobromysl in his place. 

The news that Rabbi Joshua Feitel had given up his work 
as a "Sofer" spread like wild-fire through the town, and every- 
one started guessing what could be the reason for his appar- 
ently sudden decision. Some circulated a rumor that his 
former teacher had appeared to him in a dream, telling him 
he must give up his work. Others contended that it was due 
to no dream or phantasy, but that it was entirely the result 
of Chaim Shimon's "sermon" in the "Merchatz" which 
Rabbi Joshua Feitel had felt was attributable to himself and 



in consequence felt obliged to step aside and make way for 
a worthier successor. 

This version of the story eventually reached the ears of 
Chaim Shimon's wife's grandfather, Rabbi Joseph, who 
was greatly distressed about it. Firstly, on account of the 
fact that the young Chaim Shimon should have shown 
such disrespect towards the great and saintly Rabbi Betzalel, 
and secondly because as a consequence of Chaim Shimon's 
words, Rabbi Joshua Feitel had given up his holy work. 

Rabbi Joseph determined to have a talk with Chaim 
Shimon, but the latter disclaimed any responsibility for Rabbi 
Joshua FeiteFs decision. 

Rabbi Joseph, however, still felt keenly about the "im- 
pertinence" of Chaim Shimon talking as he had done to Rabbi 
Betzalel, and decided to go to the old man and ask his for- 

The old Rabbi received Rabbi Joseph very kindly, and 
consoled him by telling him not to take Chaim Shimon's well- 
meant remarks so badly, "for," said he, "the truth is that 
whilst my intention was not to boast, my words could so have 
been understood, and could very easily have led to misinter- 

Rabbi Joseph returned home with a lighter heart. Rabbi 
Betzalel went back to Rasosne within the next few weeks, 
and Rabbi Joshua Feitel also left Dobromysl. 


The whole incident was soon forgotten, for other matters 
came up in Dobromysl which claimed the attention and in- 
terest of its Jewish inhabitants. 

It was natural that Chaim Shimon should lose some of 
his popularity in Dobromysl, where he so outspokenly con- 
demned each and every person who showed any conceit. 
People, in the main, are conceited about something, even when 
they think they do not show it outwardly. They felt his 
criticism to be directed against themselves and resented it. 

Amongst the people whose displeasure Chaim Shimon 



had incurred were the two elder sons-in-law of Eliezer Reuben 
the smith. It was entirely different, however, with, the third 
and youngest son-in-law Yitzchak Saul, at whose wedding 
Chaim Shimon was a noted guest. A firm and warm friend- 
ship had sprung up between them at their first meeting, for 
they had a mutual respect and admiration for each other's 

During Baruch's stay at the Smith's house for Pesach, he 
had the opportunity of becoming acquainted with Chaim 
Shimon, through Yitzchak Saul. He then heard how, 
when the latter had made his speech at his wedding, as was 
customary for bridegrooms, and every one had greatly ap- 
plauded, Chaim Shimon had risen, and in his speech 
had said that while joining in the praise of the groom for his 
scholarly and excellent speech, he would warn him against al- 
lowing himself to become conceited because of his "learning," 
either now, or at any future date. For conceit was a terrible 
trait in man, and one should ever be on one's guard against 
falling a victim to it. 

Many of those present lowered their heads when they 
heard Chaim Shimon's outspoken words, obviously dis- 
approving of such candor, and thinking uncomfortably that 
the speaker was surely referring to them! 

But the groom's father, sitting next to the groom, bent 
forward and whispered in his ear: "My son, I like that young 
man! He is a fellow after my own heart. I'm sure he has a great 
future before him." The "Chassid" within him told him that 
here was a potential follower of the new Chassidic teachings 
which were about this time making themselves felt in the 
Jewish world; teachings which were in contradiction with the 
line of thought as represented by the scholars present at the 

Yitzchak Saul introduced Baruch to another young man 
named Chaim Elyah, the son-in-law of a certain Zalman 
Fischel "The Only Son." Baruch learned all about Zalman 
Fischel. It appeared that in reality he was the ninth child 
of his parents and his eight other sisters and brothers were all 
living. The reason, however, for his very strange nickname 



was due to the fact that from his earliest childhood he had 
been extremely delicate. His parents were well aware of this, 
and treated him as if he were the most delicate plant which the 
slightest puff of wind could blow away and destroy! 

Young as he was, he soon learned the advantages of ac- 
cepting the role of a "delicate" child, and whilst his parents 
fussed over Mm so fondly, he fussed over himself even more! 

Right into manhood he treated himself, and saw to it 
that everyone did likewise, as a delicate and only child, and so 
his nickname stuck to him all his life. He never as much as 
"dipped a finger in cold water/' as the saying goes, and f of 
course, he never did a stroke of what might be termed "work." 
Until he got married, his father kept him, and after his mar- 
riage his father-in-law kept him for twenty years! When the 
latter died and his source of income disappeared at the same 
time, he still did not attempt to do anything to support his 
wife and children, but left all the responsibility to his wife. 

Zalman Fischel might have become a scholar had he not 
been too lazy even to concentrate on his studies, and if ever 
he happened to pick up a Gemorro he quickly remembered 
some trifling task that he simply had to attend to, and away 
went the Gemorro. 

One could always be sure to find Zalman Fischel nibbling 
at something. It would be either a biscuit, piece of cake, 
"sweetmeat," or fruit. For, of course, he was in the habit of 
assuring everybody, he just had to eat something to keep up 
his strength, as he had a very weak heart! 

Another "weakness" of his, and this nobody could deny, 
was that he took every opportunity of "dawening" before the 
"Amud." On Shabbos or Yom-Tov, that was certainly under- 
standable, but even an ordinary week-day was good enough 
to afford him his particular pleasure of acting as "reader." 

No sooner came the month of Av (two months before 
Rosh Hashanah) than Zalman Fischel began to take what he 
considered to be the necessary precautions in protecting his 
voice. He would walk about conspicuously with a rabbit-skin 
scarf around his throat. And of course when EM came, that 
was when he took himself and his voice very seriously indeed! 



He would drink endless cups of raw eggs beaten up with 
honey, so that his voice should be smooth and sweet for the 
"Yamim-Noraim" (High Festivals). 

Whenever he "dawened" before the "Amud" he would 
not content himself with merely hearing the immediate cri- 
ticism of those present^ but wherever he went, and whomever 
he visited, he would invariably ask: "Well, and how did you 
like my dawening ?' J Or, if it were someone who had not been 
present, he would ask: "Did you hear how I dawened in the 

He even went to the extent of "tipping" the attendant at 
the Baths so that he would say to the bathers : "Did you hear 
how wonderfully Zalman Fischel 'dawenned' the other day? 
If only we had more 'readers' like him!" 

The Jews of Dobromysl looked on Zalman Fischel as some- 
thing of a "joke/ 9 and laughed either with him or at him. He 
had a way of getting on with people who found his light man- 
ner a pleasant change from the more serious side of life. He 
got on very well with Ms son-in-law Chaim Elyah, and it must 
be admitted that he fussed over him as much as he did over 

Baruch found he liked Chaim Elyah incomparably more 
than he did Zalman FischeL Chaim Elyah was a very friend- 
ly soul, was nice to everybody, but to scholars in particular. 
He was a gentle-spoken person, and had a very pleasant voice 
to listen to. In addition he was fond of cracking jokes, and 
whilst he did not talk over-much, he always managed to quote 
the sayings of our Sages, relevant to whatever was topic. 

Because of his father-in-law Zalman Fischel, Chaim Elyah 
was often included in the laughter directed against the for- 
mer, but Baruch was discerning enough to recognize and ap- 
preciate the many excellent traits in Chaim Elyah, which a 
laughing manner and a "peculiar" father-in-law contrived to 
hide from the less understanding, and therefore less interested 
people around him. 



A Jew-Baiter Gets His Desserts 

The Tyrannical Squire and His Jew-Baiting Overseer. A Can- 
celled Order lor Snow-Boots. The Squire Heformed. 


Every year, as soon as Succoth was over, and the cold 
winter approaching, Chaim Shimon would leave Dobromysl 
and set out with his wares for the market places of various 
towns. Here, Jews and non-Jews alike, flocked to buy his 
famous "volikes" (snow boots). 

His name had reached even as far as the Dnieper, and 
many noblemen and government officials of the highest rank 
sought him out. 

Thus it was that the "Poretz" Stefan Verbitzki, whose 
estate was on the banks of the Dnieper, a few miles away from 
Liady, sent his overseer Jan Bednitzki to Dobromysl, to buy a 
large quantity of "volikes" from Chaim Shimon. As the 
"Poretz" employed no less than two hundred workers on his 
estate, and he wished to supply them all with "volikes," the 
order was no trifling one. 

The fact that Stefan Verbitzki was rather a capricious 
nobleman, and his overseer Jan Bednitzki a recognized "Jew- 
hater," shows how, despite their sentiments, they were deter- 
mined to obtain "volikes" from Chaim Shimon and no one else. 

When the latter received this wholesale order, he was 
very pleased, but, as he had not such a large quantity ready 



immediately, he gave the overseer all he had on hand, and 
promised to deliver the rest of the order on a specific date. 

When all details about price etc. were agreed upon, a 
contract was drawn up in business-like fashion, with a re- 
ceipt made out for the money paid. The overseer then re- 
turned home to the "Poretz," and Rabbi Chaim Shimon got 
busy making "volikes" to complete the large order. He 
engaged more workpeople, on day-shifts and night-shifts, so 
that the order should be ready even before the promised date. 
He took great pains to see that the material and workman- 
ship should be of the highest quality, for he knew with whom 
he had to contend, a "crazy" nobleman, and an anti-semitic 
overseer. So he was determined that there should be no pos- 
sible grounds for complaint! 

Imagine his astonishment, therefore, when on arrival 
a whole week earlier than promised, with his order loaded on 
wagons, he was met by the overseer who greeted him in an 
angry voice: "The Toretz' has changed his mind about the 
order so you'd better get back home with them, and the quick- 
er the better!" 

When Chaim Shimon began protesting and asked the 
reason for such unwarranted treatment, the overseer lost his 
temper completely and began raging against Chaim Shimon 
and Jews in general. 

He was now absolutely convinced that the overseer was at 
the root of the trouble, and for some personal reason of his 
own. So he again reiterated that he must see the "Poretz" and 
speak to him personally. 

The infuriated overseer again began screaming at 
him: "How dare you question my word! You low-down 
Jew! If I say that the Toretz' has cancelled the order, then 
that will have to be sufficient for you! Ill soon put a stop to 
your questions!" Saying which he grabbed hold of a gun and 
was going to shoot at Chaim Shimon. Fortunately, however, 
the two carriers who had brought the wagon of "volikes," 
jumped at Jan Bednitzki and caught at his arm, stopping him 
just in time to save Chaim Shimon from being shot. 

Chaim Shimon saw that further argument was useless, 



so he had no alternative but to take his wagon-load and depart. 

He did not, however, go straight home, but stopped at a 
nearby village to think the matter over, and see in which way 
he could at least prove himself in the right with Stefan Ver- 
bitzki, the nobleman, who must undoubtedly have had his mind 
poisoned against Chaim Shimon and his wares. 

Meanwhile, word got around that the latter had brought 
"volikes" for all the workers of the "Poretz," but that despite 
the fact that Chaim Shimon had brought them before the date 
promised, the order had nevertheless been refused by the un- 
scrupulous Jan Bednitzki! 

The weather had by now become really cold and nasty, 
and many of the workers were laid up with heavy colds, prob- 
ably due to their not yet having the "volikes" and other warm 
clothing they so urgently needed for their protection against 
such weather. The news therefore angered them and they 
began to murmur their protests against the overseer's incom- 
prehensible behavior. 

Their grumbling soon reached the nobleman's castle, and 
all his servants went about their tasks discussing the matter 
of the cancelled "volikes," and shrugging their shoulders in 

Verbitzki, had he not been lying in a drunken stupor, 
would surely have heard what was going on, but it was not 
until he awoke to comparative sobriety that he was aware 
of his old servant who was his personal attendant, going about 
talking to himself, and wagging his head in perplexity. 

"I don't understand it," the old valet was murmuring, 
"why should Chaim's 'volikes' have been refused, when they 
are so badly wanted? It beats me!" 

"What are you saying?" roared Verbitzki. "Call that dog 
here at once!" (Meaning Bednitzki, whom he always referred 
to as "a dog." Thus he called all those employed on his estate) . 
"And tell him to bring the Jew along with him!" 

The old servant took to his heels, fearing that in his rage, 
the "Poretz" would treat him to a beating with his whip, which 
he had tasted on more than one occasion. 

The "Poretz" was accustomed to regarding himself as an 



"over-lord" with power over his workers and their families, 
which could not be questioned or disputed by anyone! On 
many an occasion he would call together all his workers with 
their households, and have them all assembled in front of his 
castle. He would then seat himself on a raised dais with a 
sceptre in his hand and survey them all with a penetrating 
gaze! Heaven help the one upon whom his eye settled! For 
he would for no apparent reason choose someone at random, 
and order him to be whipped before the eyes of the whole 
gathering! Then the unfortunate creature was ordered to 
crawl on all fours and kiss the tips of the "nobleman's" boots! 
While the onlookers had to sing a song of praise to him, their 

This he did to demonstrate his limitless power over them, 
and naturally enough, they all went in fear and trembling of 
him and his crazy impulses. 

This "nobleman" Stefan Verbitzki liked to call himself 
"Stefan Vielmozshni," ("almighty") , and when he appeared in 
public, he always had a band of his workers blowing the trum- 
pets to herald the approach of their "lord and master." The 
pomp and ceremony pleased his vanity and made a great im- 
pression, he felt, upon his subservient employees. 

The old valet came running to the overseer Jan Bednitzki, 
and told Mm that the "Poretz" had ordered him to go at once 
to find Chaim Shimon and bring him back immediately with 
his "volikes." 


When the overseer got the message he paled, for he real- 
ized that trouble awaited him. But he had no alternative than 
to do his master's bidding, so he went off to the village, where 
he had heard, Chaim Shimon was staying. 

As soon as they both appeared at the castle, the "Poretz" 
greeted Bednitzki with a roar of curses, and demanded an 
explanation of him. But as soon as Bednitzki opened his 
mouth to speak, the "Poretz" screamed at him: 

"Silence, you black dog!" and turned with a completely 
changed manner to Chaim Shimon, saying politely: 



"It was extremely nice of you to bring the 'volikes' so 
quickly! I like people who carry out my orders so capably, 
and I like people who keep their word, even if they be Jews! 
To show you how pleased I am with you, I am going to pay 
you a 'gulden' more on every pair of Volikes/ and give you 
a repeat order for a further two hundred pairs!" 

Chaim Shimon, who was aware of the capriciousness of 
the crazy "Poretz," thought he was making fun of him. He 
could not imagine he spoke seriously, so he replied : "I was told 
that you had cancelled your outstanding order for the 'volikes' 
and I was already on my way home with them. I had accepted 
the cancellation without intending to make any counter-claims, 
but now I hear a different story from your own lips." 

"Who was it who told you such an untruth?" asked the 
"Poretz," Chaim Shimon looked towards Bednitzki but said 
not a word. The latter looked as if he would willingly have 
sunk through the floor. He stood there, trembling like a leaf, 
his eyes full of terror. 

The "Poretz" knew without being told that his overseer 
was at the bottom of the unwarranted cancellation, and hurled 
himself at him thundering: 

"How dare you bring such dishonor upon me by saying 
in my name that I wished to retract the order I had placed 
with this Jew! You shall pay dearly for this, you black son 
of a dog!" The "nobleman" accompanied his tirade with a 
slashing of his whip over the face and body of the luckless 
overseer, until the blood spurted forth from his wounds! 

In his rage he turned also upon Chaim Shimon, saying: 
"You also deserve a whipping for believing that I would go 
back on my word. This I would never do even if the prices 
were too high!" 

Calming down he concluded: "I see I am dealing with 
an honest man. You brought my order even before the time 
you promised, so I will show you my appreciation by dealing 
with you in the future. And, as I have already stated, I want 
you to supply me with another batch of Volikes/ so that my 
'dogs' do not freeze in the cold!" 

The "Poretz" gave orders for the book of accounts to be 



brought in, meanwhile wrapping himself up before going out 
to have a look at the new "volikes" that Chaim Shimon had 
brought along in the wagons. 

When the goods were uncovered and the "Poretz" bent 
forward to examine them, he shouted out his approval with 
glee and said he wished them to be taken to his store-rooms 
to compare them with the previous lot that Chaim Shimon 
had sold him. 

No sooner had they entered the store-room and seen the 
boots than Chaim Shimon called out in surprise: "Why, these 
are not my 'volikes!' Mine were entirely different, and of a 
definitely superior quality! These are not worth the half of 
the price of mine!" 

"What in the name of Heaven has been going on around 
here?" again roared the "Poretz." "I must get to the bottom 
of the matter!" 

Bednitzki could stand no more, and fell down in a swoon. 
The "Poretz" ordered him to be carried into the castle, and 
kept him under close guard, to be dealt with at a more con- 
venient moment. 

He then ordered the two drivers who had been in charge 
of the wagons when the overseer had obtained the "volikes" 
from Chaim Shimon, to be brought to him and commanded 
them to tell him exactly what had transpired. 

"If you tell me the whole truth," the "Poretz" told them, 
"I will give each of you a drink of whiskey and a loaf of bread, 
but should I discover that you are telling lies, I warn you I 
shall have no mercy upon you and beat you to death!" 

The two frightened peasants needed no second bidding, 
but immediately began, in trembling voices full of fear, to re- 
late how, after Jan Bednitzki had received the "volikes" from 
Chaim Shimon, he had taken them to another town and sold 
them at a good profit. With part of the money he had pur- 
chased a cheaper quality "volikes" elsewhere, and had brought 
them to the "Poretz," making out an account for a higher 
amount than he had paid to Chaim Shimon. Thus he had made 
a profit in both directions. First on the "sale" and secondly 
on the purchase of the "volikes" to replace those he had ob- 



tained from Chaim Shimon. The latter was thus completely 

Chaim Shimon returned home and set about making up 
the new order. When he came back to the castle after three 
weeks, with the two hundred pairs of snow boots, he found a 
new overseer there, a Jew named Aaron Joseph of Liady. He 
heard that the overseer Jan Bednitzki had been so badly 
beaten by the "Poretz," that he was even now still lying in 
bed suffering from his wounds! 

During one of his business visits, Chaim Shimon learned 
from the new overseer Aaron Joseph that in the time of the 
old "Poretz," the father of the present "Poretz," many Jews 
had employment on the Verbitzki estates, and were very well 
treated. But when the old "Poretz," (who was a friend of the 
Jews and gladly had them work for him) died, the young 
"Poretz" took over and fell under the influence of the anti- 
semitic overseer Jan Bednitzki. Thus the Jews were chased 
out of the Verbitzki estates and had to look for a living else- 

This state of affairs would probably have continued, had 
not the "Poretz" discovered, through this business transac- 
tion with Chaim Shimon, that Bednitzki was a swindler and 
had been consistently defrauding him during all the time he 
had been in his employ. He it was, too, who had made up all 
sorts of stories against the Jews, so that the "Poretz" had 
believed them and had mistreated the Jews because of them. 

Now that he had been shown his mistake, he had gone to 
the Jewish community in Liady, accompanied by his "armed- 
guard," and had made a public apology to them. (Which was 
much, for such a conceited man as he, with the extremely high 
opinion he had of himself, his power, and his dignity!). 

He had 'asked Aaron Joseph to come back and again be his 
overseer, as he had been until Bednitzki had come along and 
made mischief for him and for all the Jews in and around the 

Now everything was changed for the Jews, for the better. 

When Chaim Shimon arrived one day to make a delivery, 
he was told that the "Poretz" had arranged a special meatless- 



meal which he would be able to eat. And in order to make cer- 
tain that it would be "kosher" enough for him, he had asked 
his Jewish overseer Aaron Joseph to arrange the meal for 
them all in his own house, and he, the "Poretz," would pay 
for everything. 

When they were all sitting together at the table, (and it 
was indeed meant as an honor, that the "Poretz" should sit 
at the same table as Chaim Shimon and the overseer), the 
young "Poretz" began telling them of his late father's friend- 
ship for the Jews. He told them with such pride about the 
time when there had been a big fire in Liady, destroying a very 
large part of the town, and how his father had helped the Jews 

The Rav of Liady and other heads of the Jewish commu- 
nity of Liady had come to him in their trouble, and he 
gave them permission to take wood from his forests to use 
in the rebuilding of their homes and community centres, as 
well as their holy place of worship, their Beth-Hamidrash. 

Anyone who knew the "Young Poretz" as he had been 
under the evil influence of his Jew-hating overseer Jan 
Bednitzki, would hardly have recognized that the "Poretz" 
who was sitting in Aaron Joseph's house, and chatting in such 
friendly fashion with his two Jewish companions, was one and 
the same man! 

He told them how delighted he was at the renewal of 
friendship with the Jews. He knew his father would have 
wished it so, and he was glad that his father had never known 
that his own friendship with the Jews had been terminated 
for a time by his son. 

Both Aaron Joseph and Chaim Shimon were delighted 
with this "change of heart" on the part of the young "Poretz," 
but Chaim Shimon, in particular, was absolutely in the seventh 
heaven of delight that it was he who had been instrumental 
in bringing about such an improved state of affairs for his 

And so it was with a light and grateful heart that Chaim 
Shimon left the "Poretz" Verbitzki, and made his way back to 
his home in DobromysL 



Typical Chassidism 

A Chassid Befriends a Lost Soul. Yearning for Scholarly 
Son-in-law. Humble Veterinary who Rises to Fame. A Lesson 
In iove for Dumb Creatures. Chassldic Father and Son. 
Rabbi Adam Saal-Snem. 


It wasn't easy for the smith of Dobromysl, Eliezer 
Reuben, to get used to the idea of his third son-in-law Rabbi 
Yitzchak Saul becoming a smith like himself and working 
together with him in the smithy. He had striven and suc- 
ceeded to obtain scholars for all three of his daughters, and 
he had not minded how much it had cost him or how hard he 
worked in order to realize this ambition of his. 

His two older sons-in-law had eventually obtained respec- 
ted rabbinical posts in Yeshivoth, and left his house now that 
they could afford to live independently. His third son-in-law, 
however, was still enjoying his father-in-law's "board and 
lodgings" until he too would have found a suitable post. 

Eliezer Reuben had always felt very proud of his learned 
sons-in-law, and enjoyed listening to their "learning." It was 
therefore all the more disappointing to him that this youngest 
son-in-law should show this peculiar desire to become a work- 
man like himself. It was beyond his comprehension! 

He spoke to his wife Deborah about it, as well as to his 
daughter, Yitzchak Saul's wife. He received scant sympathy. 

"Why should it trouble you?" asked his wife. "Haven't 



you yourself proved that a workman can also be a decent 
person? Must one be a Rabbi before one can earn respect?" 

Eliezer Reuben saw that he could receive no backing from 
either his wife or daughter, so had perforce to resign himself 
to the idea. 

On reflection, he decided that Yitzchak Saul was unlike his 
other two sons-in-law, and in fact unlike most other young 
men who had as good an education as he had. Whereas the 
others generally carried their "learning" around with them as 
if wearing a label marked "scholar," Yitzchak Saul, on the 
contrary, was exceedingly modest and treated everybody with 
equal respect and kindly manner, be he a scholar or unedu- 

Thus it came about that Eliezer Reuben often noticed 
that, when his old neighbor, the strangely uncouth Zebulun 
Benjamin, came along, Yitzchak Saul would invariably put 
aside his Gemorro and give him a welcoming smile. 

Everybody in Dobromysl regarded Zebulun Benjamin as 
the ignoramus he was in fact. They therefore believed they 
were absolutely within their rights in poking fun at him if 
they felt like it. Even Eliezer Reuben saw nothing wrong in 
his two older sons-in-law having a joke at his expense, when- 
ever Zebulun Benjamin called at the smithy. 

Zebulun Benjamin was an expert veterinarian, and, in ad- 
dition, earned his living by skinning the carcasses of animals. 
Maybe it was because of what people considered his low call- 
ing, that no one showed him any attention or interest, other 
than to have a laugh over his crude appearance or simplicity. 

The veterinarian recognized his own appalling ignorance 
and what an object of contempt he was in the eyes of all his 
fellow-Jews. It was due to the fact that he could no longer 
bear to be so ridiculed, that he and his wife and children left 
the small town in which they lived, and moved to Dobromysl 
where they were fortunate enough to become friends and 
neighbors of the good-hearted smith Eliezer Reuben. 

Zebulun Benjamin well remembered how he used to be 
"called to the Torah" but once a year, which was on "Simchath 
Torah," when he joined the young boys in the "Aliyah" of 



"Kol Hanearim." He would then hide behind some adult so 
that he would be as inconspicuous as possible, and when he had 
to recite the "Berachah," he would repeat it after the others. 
Of course, all the youngsters thought it very funny and just 
roared with laughter, and many of the grown-ups, too, who 
should have had more sense and some regard for the feelings 
of the unfortunate Jew, joined in the hilarity. 

If Zebulun Benjamin had not felt it to be the duty of 
every Jew to be called to the Torah at least once a year, 
he simply could not have found enough courage to go through 
the terrible ordeal of publicly facing the congregation. 

But it was not in the Shool alone that people found an 
opportunity of making fun of poor Zebulun Benjamin. He no 
sooner entered the "Merchatz" (Baths) than a peal of merri- 
ment rippled through the place! The poor fellow literally 
writhed in discomfort and unhappiness, but he knew of no way 
to alter matters. He thought that the only course open to him 
at this stage was to become resigned to his unenviable posi- 

As has been said, the only exception, thus far, had been 
Eliezer Reuben the smith. But now, wonder of won- 
ders, a brilliant young man, a Torah-student, was making a 
friend of him! He could hardly realize the enormity of his 
good fortune! The more he thought about it, the greater was 
his appreciation and gratitude to this warm-hearted individual 
who could make him feel that he, too, was a person of value to 
the community! 

Yitzchak Saul always made a point of showing this 
poor, much-abused fellow, particular friendliness. He would 
ask him to sit down and talk to him. He would ask after his 
family and encourage him to tell him of his problems. 

At first the humble Zebulun Benjamin didn't dare say a 
word to this brilliant young scholar, Yitzchak Saul. But little 
by little, the latter's gentle manner and obvious interest put 
him at his ease. 

He seemed so grateful that such an educated person 
should take any interest in him, that the tears rushed to his 



"You cannot Imagine what your kindness means to me!" 
Zebulun Benjamin said. "I really have many problems I should 
be grateful to discuss with you if you have the time and pa- 
tience to listen." 

"By all means," replied Yitzchak Saul. "I shall be de- 
lighted to advise you in whichever way possible." 

Zebulun Benjamin continued eagerly: "My oldest daugh- 
ter is now nearly eighteen years old, and I feel I ought to be 
looking for a suitable husband for her. I would like a learned 
son-in-law, for although I am such an ignorant man myself, 
that has been due to the fact that I have lived all my life 
amongst non-Jewish uneducated peasants. I never had an op- 
portunity to learn anything which you might include in the 
term 'education.' That is why I felt I should so like my children 
to have the benefit of what I missed ! My younger boys are also 
growing up, and I should love them to attend some Yeshivah ! 
But until now, whenever I as much as mentioned it to anyone, 
they just laughed at me, thinking me unworthy of having 
educated children." 

Rabbi Yitzchak Saul was touched at the pathos in the 
voice and face of Zebulun Benjamin. 

"Don't you give a thought to those people! They are not 
worth thinking about. You have as much right to hope for 
educated children as anyone else. You just send them along 
to me and 111 examine them and tell you if they are of a suffi- 
ciently high standard to be admitted to a Yeshivah. If, how- 
ever, they are not, but I find they have the necessary talent, 
I shall myself tutor them with the greatest of pleasure until 
they know enough to begin their studies at a Yeshivah. 

"Everything will be alright, don't you worry my friend," 
Yitzchak Saul concluded, and Zebulun Benjamin's face lit up 
with pleasure at the warm and kindly words, 

"You have saved me from despair!" the latter cried out 
gratefully. "I shall never forget you as long as I live!" 

Yitzchak Saul patted him on the shoulder understand- 

"And dare I ask you what I can do about my daughter?" 



asked Zebulun Benjamin hopefully. "I have never dared tell 
anyone how I yearn to have a learned husband for her J She 
Is a lovely girl in every way. Now is it her fault, poor child, 
that she has such an ignoramus for a father?" 

"And why shouldn't you have a learned son-in-law?" said 
Yitzchak Saul encouragingly. 

"You know," continued the veterinarian in a confidential 
tone. "I have saved quite a nice dowry for her, with a beauti- 
ful trousseau, and sufficient money to provide a complete out- 
fit of clothing for her prospective husband, too. I assure you, 
if the right suitor be found for her, he would be short of 
nothing in my house! I have always envied your father-in-law 
his good fortune in obtaining such learned sons-in-law, al- 
though he himself is not educated. Why then should I not be 
able to provide my dear daughter with a learned husband 
too?" Zebulun Benjamin spoke with such yearning in his voice 
that Yitzchak Saul was very moved. 

"I shall find you such a son-in-law," Yitzchak Saul told 
him confidently, and Zebulun Benjamin jumped for joy, hear- 
ing these unexpected words. Yitzchak Saul explained to him 
that his father Rabbi Nissan lived in Harki, and that he took 
great delight in finding wives for the excellent young men of 
his acquaintance. He would, therefore, write to his father with- 
out delay, telling him all about Zebulun Benjamin's lovely 
daughter, and asking him to find a nice young man for her. 

"But please tell your father the whole truth about me," 
said Zebulun Benjamin earnestly. "You had better tell him 
that I am a very lowly person, earning my livelihood by 
skinning carcasses and healing sick animals. Tell him that 
my wife is as ignorant as I am, and her father was a cobbler 
until, in his old age, he gave up his cobbling and became a 
Shamash in a Shool in Dubrovne. Until I was married I did 
not even know an 'aleph* from a 'beth/ and even now I do not 
know much more than a little 'Ivrf and the essential 'Bera- 
choth!' I still cannot 'da wen' sufficiently well to follow the 
service with all the other congregants, and whenever I am 
'called up* to the Torah, my teeth begin to chatter from fright 
lest, whilst I make the 'Berachah/ my tongue should not get 



all tied up!' I know full well that at such a time, people laugh 
at me behind my back if not openly. But is it my fault that 
I have been so cursed that I never had the opportunity to study 
in my childhood, like other Jews? I can honestly say, though, 
that I have never, since I can remember, told a lie. Nor have 
I ever dealt dishonestly either with Jew or non-Jew. 

"I have also always impressed upon my children the im- 
portance of being honest and decent, and kind to animals, as 
well as to people. 

"In fact I have always acted according to the best of my 
knowledge and understanding, which I know, by comparison 
with other people's, is not very high. Still, the truth must be 
told, even when it is not so pleasant, and so I shall not fe'el 
comfortable unless your father knows all there is to know 
about me and my family, and about our humble origin." 


Zebulun Benjamin looked relieved when he had got that 
speech off his chest, and Yitzchak Saul listened throughout, 
with patience and understanding. 

On the following morning, Zebulun Benjamin brought a 
bag containing the money which he had saved for his daugh- 
ter's dowry, and put it into Yitzchak Saul's hands saying: 

"I once heard that a common person need not be trusted, 
so I thought it better that you should see that I have the 
money, and," he concluded simply, "I should feel so very much 
obliged to you, if you would kindly keep it in your possession 
until we need it" 

Whilst the honesty and simplicity of the humble, unedu- 
cated Zebulun Benjamin made a deep impression upon the 
scholarly Yitzchak Saul, the latter's sympathetic understand- 
ing and friendliness towards Zebulun Benjamin, as if to an 
equal, absolutely carried him into the "seventh heaven of 

One day Zebulun Benjamin asked him: 

"Please Rabbi, tell me why it is that when I am amongst 
non-Jews, they never seem to take any notice of the fact that 
I am uneducated! They also do not require so much education. 



They go to church on Sundays and just listen to their priest 
praying or giving them a sermon and it is sufficient for them. 

"But we Jews have to be able to read and recite all the 
prayers and services, ourselves! And if we can't, as is the 
unfortunate case with myself , see how I am laughed at and 
scoffed at." 

"My dear friend/' replied the scholar, "no one has the 
right to make fun of you under any circumstances ! But I will 
tell you why it is necessary for us Jews to know more than the 
non-Jews. You see, Gd offered the Torah to the nations, but 
the only nation to accept it was the Jewish people. They are 
therefore under obligation to study the Torah and carry out 
all its teachings. They will then be a credit to their Maker and 
an example for the rest of the world to follow. 

"But don't think that only a scholar is a man of account. 
Remember that even where there are nine scholars they do 
not constitute a 'minyan' until a tenth Jew comes to join them, 
nor, when there are two Torah-scholars, can they constitute 
a 'mezuman' until a third Jew joins them. And in both cases 
it is not essential for the additional Jew to be a scholar like 
the others, but the mere fact of his being a Jew gives him 
an equal right and status." 

Zebulun Benjamin's eyes lit up with pleasure and relief 
as his friend continued: "All Jews are equal in relation to 
matters of 'Kedushah' (sanctity) except the 'Kohanim' 
(priests), who were appointed for special duties, but all other 
Jews can carry out all other Mitzvoth of the Torah, and earn 
equal merit. As for one's occupation, one need never be 
ashamed of one's work so long as it is done honestly. 1 ' 

All the time, Yitzchak Saul spoke to this uneducated Jew 
as an equal, and quoted the sayings of the Sages to him in such 
simple language and explained them to him so clearly, that 
even this simple soul could understand and appreciate them. 
"Rabbi Simeon the son of Rabbi Lakish tells us in the Ge- 
morro Chulin (p. 92), *The Jewish people is comparable to a 
vine, whose branches represent the Baale Batim, whose clus- 
ters of grapes represent the scholars, and whose leaves repre- 
sent the uneducated, the ame-ha~aretzS 



"The scholars, therefore, must pray for the welfare of 
those who are less educated than themselves, for the latter 
protect the former, as the leaves protect the fruit." 

Yitzchak Saul told Zebulun Benjamin that the Jews 
differ from non-Jews in that the former value learning so 
highly that there are Jews who spend all their time in Torah- 
study. He also encouraged the veterinarian to attend a 
"Shiur" at the Beth-Hamidrash between "Minchah" and 
"Maariv," when the ordinary people came and had everything 
explained to them in simple terms. And if even this would 
be too difficult for him to understand, Yitzchak Saul as- 
sured him that, by listening to the discourse day after day, 
he would eventually become familiar with the terms used and 
learn to understand their meaning. "Above all, remember 
that you are a Jew the same as the others, with the same op- 
portunities and responsibilities." 

When Zebulun Benjamin heard such encouraging words 
from his new friend, he was absolutely thrilled, and became 
filled with a burning desire to show his acquaintances that he 
could become as good a Jew as they. And so he hastened to 
assure his friend that he was more than willing to come to 
the "Shiur" at the Beth-Hamidrash as he had suggested. 

"I don't mind if they laugh at me now," Zebulun Benjamin 
said with a new confidence in himself, "I shall show them what 
I can do!" 

From that time he really began to believe in himself and 
to acquire a certain amount of self-respect, so sadly lacking 
before. He attended the "Shiur" in the Beth-Hamidrash 
most religiously, and listened so carefully and earnestly to 
all that he heard there. 

If ever something cropped up that he could not under- 
stand, he always came to Yitzchak Saul, who was only 
too pleased to explain things to him so that the problem dis- 

Meanwhile, Yitzchak Saul received a reply from his father 
Rabbi Nissan in connection with the matter of the match for 
Zebulun Benjamin's daughter. 

In his reply Rabbi Nissan stated that there were several 



very worthy young men, all Torah scholars, who could be 
said to be a good match for Dinah, the daughter of Zebuhm 
Benjamin, but he wished to give the matter his further con- 
sideration so that he could be more definite about the one 
he would finally recommend. 

When Yitzchak Saul reported the contents of the 
letter he had received to Zebulun Benjamin, the latter was 
overjoyed! He really appreciated such genuine interest on 
the part of someone who had not even met him. And more 
than anything he appreciated the tone of the letter, which by 
no word or syllable suggested that he had anything but respect 
for the humble and ignorant Jew who was looking for a 
scholarly son-in-law. 

It was wonderful to feel that he was being treated as an 
equal, and not looked down upon as he had been practically 
all his life. And when he dwelt upon the possibility of really 
and truly becoming the father-in-law of a Torah-scholar, his 
pleasurable anticipation carried him into indescribable rap- 

G-d was being very good to him and he would try to be 
worthy of such undeserved grace in every way he could think 

So decided Zebulun Benjamin out of the fullness of his 
grateful heart. 


Yitzchak Saul had not told Zebulun Benjamin why 
he took such an interest in him, nor why he devoted so much 
of his precious time to an ignorant Jew. But in the letter 
which Rabbi Nissan had written to his son, he had urged 
him to take the veterinarian "under his wing" and look after 
his spiritual welfare for, he felt, here was "fertile soil" upon 
which the seeds he would plant would blossom and flourish. 
Rabbi Nissan recognized even from afar, that Zebulun Ben- 
jamin had in himself the makings of a great Jew, and if he 
could help him to such an elevation, he would have shown 
that every Jew can aspire to great spiritual heights no matter 
from how low a level he should begin. 



Eventually this hitherto despised Zebulun Benjamin 
earned the respect and admiration of the Jews of Dobromysl. 
This came about when a dreadful epidemic attacked the town. 

The epidemic attacked young children in particular, as 
well as animals. When the death-toll increased day by day, 
the people were literally terrified. Zebulun Benjamin, who had 
a lifelong knowledge and experience of healing sick animals, 
recognized that this epidemic was the result of contaminated 
milk from cows and goats that had been eating poisonous 

He knew exactly how to treat this disease as well as how 
to combat its recurrence. He therefore quickly set about pre- 
paring his medicines which he prescribed for the children, and 
gave instructions on how to avoid further contamination and 
spreading of the disease. The result was miraculous! In the 
course of a couple of days the afflicted were cured, and the 
deaths among the infected ceased. He also treated and cured 
the affected animals. 

All the inhabitants of Dobromysl and around, just opened 
their eyes in wonder and admiration! So there was something 
in Zebulun Benjamin after all! 

Where no one else, either by prayer or practical appli- 
cation, had been able to do anything in the face of this dread- 
ful calamity, the simple veterinary had quietly made up his 
prescriptions and brought relief and joy with his healing, into 
many stricken homes. 

When the epidemic had completely abated, the Rav of 
Dobromysl decreed a special day of fasting and prayers in 
gratitude to the Almighty for having sent his healing through 
Zebulun Benjamin. 

It was "Erev Rosh Chodesh EM," and all the Jews of 
Dobromysl had gathered together in the Beth-Hamidrash 
to listen to the words of their Rav. 

In his sermon, which made a most profound impression 
upon his listeners, he praised Zebulun Benjamin, and said 
he had come like "an angel from heaven" to save their chil- 

"We can all learn from this episode," he continued, "that 



the Almighty can choose anyone, however uneducated he may 
be, to carry out His missions. We must all endeavor to be 
worthy of such a choice!" Saying which, he burst into tears, 
as was his custom when deeply moved in prayer. 

"Our Sages tell us that when a community is at fault, 
the responsibility and liability rest upon their Rav who, as 
their spiritual guide, is meant to lead and keep his 'flock* in 
the right path. If they go astray, it proves he has failed them. 
That is why I feel that the epidemic was sent to us as a punish- 
ment for some wrongdoing, and as head of the community, 
I feel the fault is mine. Whilst recognizing the sorrow of what 
has befallen us, we must at the same time rejoice that the 
Almighty in His goodness, has sent His salvation to the suf- 
ferers through such a humble person as Zebulun Benjamin. 
We can, if we will, learn so much from this!" 

Everybody began to talk about Zebulun Benjamin and his 
hitherto unknown, or at least unrecognized healing powers, as 
well as about their Rav's unstinted praise of him. 

There still were some who continued to make fun of him, 
in his presence or behind his back, but whereas before this 
excited little if any interest, now there were many who spoke 
up in his defense and rebuked those who made attempts to 
belittle him. 

When Zebulun Benjamin had concluded his work of heal- 
ing in Dobromysl, he went out into the surrounding villages 
to bring relief to the afflicted peasants. He was kept busy, 
as he was alone in his role of "doctor," so it was not until 
Friday afternoon that he managed to return to Dobromysl in 
great haste, and the first thing he did was to rush into the 
"Merchatz" (Baths) in order to make himself ready for 

As he entered the room where the Jews were bathing, he 
heard himself being discussed. The room was full of steam f 
and no one saw that the object of their discussion had just 
come in. They were all talking about the way the Rav had 
praised the veterinary and they agreed, too, that he was de- 
serving of such praise. The simple Zebulun Benjamin who was 
unaccustomed to such an attitude on the part of his fellow- 



Jews, rushed Ms ablutions and literally fled before he would 
be recognized. He was amazed at what he had heard, and 
very disturbed to find himself the object of praise. 

He hurried to his friend Bliezer Reuben and burst into 
tears, telling him what had just happened. 

The two smiths, Eliezer Reuben and Yitzchak Saul, had 
been so happy to see how their humble friend had risen to 
a place of recognition and respect in the community. And now 
here was the poor man in tears! 

"I have heard it said that if one receives a reward on 
this earth for a good deed, the merit is deducted from one's 
portion in the world to come," he said between his sobs. "Now 
people will hear me being praised and will envy me," he con- 
tinued. "And you know that that is a thing which does not 
appeal to me in the least. Don't you think it would be a good 
idea for me to leave Dobromysl and go to a place where no- 
body knows me?" he pleaded. 

Eliezer Reuben spoke comfortingly to his friend and tried 
to reassure him, telling him not to worry, but accompany him 
to Shool. 

As the two friends walked together, they discussed the 
wonders of the Creator who had created grasses which could 
heal, and grasses which were poisonous. 

"Yes," said Zebulun Benjamin, who knew much about the 
powers of nature, "G-d has further shown his greatness by 
giving the animals the instinct to recognize which grasses they 
may eat to their advantage and which to avoid as being 
poisonous. It is seldom that animals eat of the poisonous 
grasses, and .even when they do, there are still some grasses 
which have the power to nullify the poisons already imbibed. 
It is ridiculous to attribute to me powers which belong to the 
Almighty! Anyone who knew which elements are contained 
in the various plants and herbs, could have done the same as 
I did/' he concluded, unaware that his was a most unusual 

They had now reached the Beth-Hamidrash, and as was 
his regular custom, Eliezer Reuben was among the first of the 
worshippers to arrive. 



He was looking for an opportunity to "rid" himself of his 
friend, for he wanted to put some money in the charity-box 
which always stood in a prominent place in the Beth-Ha- 

From the day he married, Eliezer Reuben had arranged 
with his wife that they put a penny by, morning and evening, 
for charity. Also, whenever they sat down to a meal without 
a guest, they put by the amount that his meal would have 
cost them. Then as each child was born to them, they added 
a penny on its behalf, so that each week, there was a nice 
little sum collected by his wife, which he took along with him 
in a handkerchief, and when no one was looking, quickly put 
into the charity-box in the Beth-Hamidrash, so that by giving 
his charity secretly, it would be a worthier deed. 

As the two men entered the Beth-Hamidrash on this par- 
ticular Friday evening, they saw the eleven-year old nephew 
of the Shamash busily sweeping the Beth-Hamidrash. They 
realized that something must have happened, and learned 
from the lad that the Shamash had fallen and broken his leg. 

Eliezer Reuben and Zebulun Benjamin quickly took over 
his duties, so that when the other congregants arrived for 
"Kabbalath Shabbath," everything would be ready and in 

It had long been Eliezer Reuben's custom to change the 
week-day "Parocheth" (Curtain of the Ark) for the more 
elaborate one used for Shabbos. He believed it was a "Segulah" 
(a good omen) for keeping peace in the home, and blessing 
one's children with long life. 

Zebulun Benjamin filled the laver with water, lit the 
candles for the "Amud," as well as those in the Candelabra 
which hung suspended from the ceiling. 

When the other congregants assembled, he took his place 
as usual, behind the "Bimah." After the service, he was still 
standing quietly in his corner, reciting the chapters of the 
"Tillim" which Rabbi Yitzchak Saul had advised him to 
repeat after each time he "dawened," when suddenly he was 
startled by hearing himself addressed from behind his 
shoulder : 



"Good Shabbos to you, Reb Zebulun Benjamin!" He 
turned round and gasped as lie saw who had thus addressed 
him. It was the Rav, who stood there greeting him with out- 
stretched hand. 

"Shalom Aleichem, Reb Zebulun Benjamin," the Rav said 
to him, and as he realized that he had actually been addressed 
by the honorable title "Reb/' Zebulun Benjamin was overcome 
with emotion and burst into tears. 

"Dear Rabbi," he asked in the midst of his tears, "will 
I not have my portion in the world to come diminished, on 
account of the great honor I am receiving now?" 

"Do not be upset," the Rav told him reassuringly, "you 
certainly will lose nothing of your portion in the next world. 
It is only those who pursue honor, who thereby lose their por- 
tion in the world to come. But you, my friend, are not pursu- 
ing honor, but receiving it as your just due. You have nothing 
to worry about on that score. Your portion will remain un- 

Zebulun Benjamin calmed himself as he heard the com- 
forting words of the Rav, but what a stir was created among 
all the others who had seen the Rav seek out Zebulun Ben- 
jamin and address him with such honor, as he shook hands 
with him and bade him "Good Shabbos." 

It needed neither telephone nor telegraph for news to get 
around in Dobromysl, and before the news had fairly reached 
the ears of the congregants who were present that evening 
in the Beth-Hamidrash, practically everybody in Dobromysl 
had learned of the astonishing event that had taken place 

Zebulun Benjamin was now treated as a person to be 
reckoned with, but instead of being pleased by the unac- 
customed attention afforded him, the honor was unwelcome 
to him. He continued to be the same simple unassuming 
veterinary as he was before he became the "hero of the hour." 

There was one person in particular who most emphatic- 
ally welcomed the new status acquired by Zebulun Benjamin, 
and that was none other than Yitzchak Saul. 

Another matter which pleased him was that he had now 



received word from his father Rabbi Nissan, that he had 
finally chosen the most suitable young man for the vet's young 
daughter Dinah. His name was Jeremiah, he was a very 
learned young man, and an orphan, 

Rabbi Nissan wrote that he had spoken with the young 
man who had expressed himself willing to meet the young 
lady, but he would not be able to make the trip to Dobromysl 
for another few months. 

When Zebulun Benjamin heard the glad tidings that 
Rabbi Nissan had found a real Torah scholar who was willing 
to contemplate becoming his son-in-law, he was overjoyed. 
Now he could really feel an equal with his fellows. 

Jeremiah arrived in due course and made a most pleasing 
impression upon both father and daughter. The young 
man, too, was very favorably impressed with Dinah and ap- 
proved of the father. 

There being no reason for postponement, their engage- 
ment was immediately arranged, and Zebulun Benjamin was 
so happy about it and so enraptured with his future son-in- 
law, that he at once gave him sufficient money for his expenses 
until the time he would return for his wedding. Naturally, 
being in a position to support him, he also assured him of his 
future care, telling Mm he need have no worry about finances, 
for he, Zebulun Benjamin, would be more than happy to at- 
tend to that as long as he lived. 

The joy of this simple Jew knew no bounds when his 
friend Yitzchak Saul came to tell him that not only 
he, but also the Rav of Dobromysl was more than satisfied 
with the scholarship of the prospective groom. 


Not only as a Torah-scholar did Yitzchak Saul excel him- 
self. He brought the benefit of his brilliant brain right into 
the humble smithy! 

He introduced all sorts of innovations to improve their 
business, and one of them was his invention of a certain at- 



tachment to a plough which, whilst it was in action, broke up 
the earth into small pieces. This saved a great deal of time 
for the ploughman. When the peasants heard of Yitzchak 
Saul's invention, they all flocked to the smithy and begged 

him to fix such an attachment on their ploughs, and they 
were happy to pay the price. 

This naturally made quite a nice sum of money which 
Eliezer Reuben could not otherwise have expected. And so 
his youngest son-in-law was proving himself a very excep- 
tional young man indeed, and his father-in-law could not but 
admire him for his obvious ability. 

Yitzchak Saul's work was becoming known both near 
and far, and many noblemen sent him orders to attach his 
invention to their ploughs. They also gave him their orders 
for making carriages, for he had shown his abilities in every 
branch of the work at the smithy. 

"What do you think of our brilliant son-in-law?" Eliezer 
Reuben remarked to his wife. "Here have I been working 
in the Smithy for the past forty-years without being able to 
introduce a single innovation! Then here comes a 'Yeshivah- 
Bachur' and shows us his tricks!" he finished with evident 

"The answer is a simple one," replied his wife calmly. 
"Wherever you find Torah there also will you find wisdom." 

"It is in fact the Torah to which the credit should be 
given for my invention," said Yitzchak Saul. "It is in the 
'Mishnah' that mention was made of a plough which had an 
attachment for breaking up the soil. 

"I noticed that the ploughs which the peasants brought 
to us for repair did not have such attachments, so I decided 
to introduce this innovation, and you already know how suc- 
cessful the idea was. And we owe it all to the Torah!" 

Yitzchak Saul's purpose in doing manual work to 
earn his living was not merely because he wished thus to 
make money, but he reckoned that in this way he would have 
more and better opportunities of coming into contact with 
the workers, getting to know them and winning their con- 



fidence, as though he were one of them. He wanted to help 
them achieve a higher spiritual level, by teaching them of 
the greatness and nobility of our Rabbis and Teachers, and to 
give them the incentive to follow their ethical teachings. He 
explained the Torah to these simple souls in terms which 
they could grasp and appreciate. 

Yitzchak Saul also began to teach his own wife. 
Every Shabbos he read the "Sidrah" to her and explained it 
to her in Yiddish. Soon his mother-in-law came along to 
listen, and then they were joined by other women. 

The love and patience which Yitzchak Saul showed 
to all, and his eagerness to teach them, be they men or women, 
were unsurpassed. 

He extended his love also to four-footed creatures, to 
birds, and to everything of G-d's creation. This, his father, 
Rabbi Nissan, had implanted in him since his earliest child- 
hood, telling him that one must love everything that G-d has 
made, and one must not harm any of His creatures, and not 
even hurt plants, for they too could feel pain. 

Rabbi Nissan had had good reason to teach his son to 
be merciful, for he had, like many another boy, thought noth- 
ing of throwing stones at birds, chasing cows, goats; dogs 
or cats, plucking up plants, or tearing up grasses. 

Yitzchak Saul especially remembered what his father 
had told him about a cock, which was his father's 
favorite. He treasured this cock so much, because very early 
every morning it used to crow so loudly and wake him up to 
go to Shool. He therefore looked after it himself, making 
sure it had enough to eat, and kept in good condition, so that 
nothing should affect his excellent, clear crowing. 

Every evening he used to bring it into the house and 
put it in a warm, dry place, underneath the oven. Thus he 
would be sure to hear its crowing and be in time to go to 

The louder the cock crowed, the more pleased was Rabbi 
Nissan, But not so, little Yitzchak Saul As much as his 
father loved the cock, so did his young son hate it, and he 
delighted in persecuting the bird at every opportunity. When- 



ever his father was out of the way, little Yitzchak Saul used 
to chase the poor cock all over the yard! He treated animals 
in no kindlier manner. 

They had a "broody" hen which eventually hatched her 
eggs, and fluffy little chickens emerged, which were a joy to 
behold! But the little tyrant used to pick up small stones and 
aim them at the chicks, making them "run for their lives" all 
over the yard! 

Then he thought nothing of catching flies and placing 
them inside a spider's web, so that he could have the pleasure 
of watching the struggle between the flies and the spider, 
until the latter finally captured its victims and swallowed them. 

And if he could get a dog to chase a cat, why that was 
one of his special delights! 

But one day, unnoticed by himself, his father had come 
into the yard and observed his son's cruel behavior. Sud- 
denly, Yitzchak Saul felt a heavy hand on his shoulder and, 
looking up, beheld his father's angry face. 

"So this is the way you spend your time! Ill-treating 
helpless creatures!" his father rebuked him sternly. "I could 
never imagine that a child of mine could be so cruel!" 

The little frightened boy thought his father would surely 
give him a beating, he looked so angry. But this was not 
Rabbi Nissan's way. He was a "Melamed" (teacher) and 
everybody knows that boys can drive any teacher to losing 
his temper, with blows to follow. 

But Rabbi Nissan had never in all his experience laid 
a hand upon a pupil. His "strap" hung on the wall of the 
class-room, it is true. But if a pupil deserved punishment, 
he had only to indicate the strap on the wall, and tell him 
what he deserved, and it was always enough for the culprit. 
He felt he had "had it" and resolved to make amends. 

Rabbi Nissan's pupils, in fact, respected their teacher, 
and were more afraid of him than the pupils of other teachers 
who used the strap and enforced discipline and order by this 

Entering the house with his son, Rabbi Nissan asked him 
to bring the Gemorro "Shabbos" and open it at page 125. He 



told him to read the "Mishnah" relating to the injunction 
to look after chickens with gentle care, lowering the basket 
for them to go out or come in, until they were big enough 
and strong enough to manage it for themselves. 

"See how the Torah thinks of everything and allows us 
to do something on Shabbos which otherwise we are not al- 
lowed to touch, so that the tender little chickens should not 
have to hurt themselves by jumping a distance beyond their 
capacity!" Rabbi Nissan enthusiastically explained to his little 
son. "Then in 'Berachoth' we find on page 40, that we must 
never sit down to a meal before first looking after the dumb 
creatures. For first we find the words: 'I shall give grass 
in thy fields for thine animals/ and later 'and thou shalt eat 
and, be satisfied/ 

"Thus we see that we must first of all care for the other 
of G-d's creatures before we look after our own needs. Yet 
you, my son, have not only ignored this teaching, but have 
moreover shown a cruelty towards the poor creatures, which 
I could hardly have believed possible in a child of mine! You 
have acted murderously, and in a blood-thirsty manner!" 

Yitzchak Saul trembled before the reproof and reproach 
in his father's cutting tones. He thought his father had fin- 
ished with him when, instead, he heard his father saying in a 
very serious voice : 

"You know that it is not in my nature to hit anyone, 
and I have never beaten you, but this time I am going to ask 
you to take down that 'cat-o-nine-tails' which you see hanging 
on the wall, and I am going to whip you. I want you to feel 
the taste of real pain so that you will better realize the pain 
you have inflicted upon the creatures you have so thought- 
lessly persecuted." 

Yitzchak Saul gravely took a chair and reached up for the 
strap which he had never before seen his father use. This in 
itself impressed upon him the enormity of his crime. 

His father very gravely took it from him and told him 
to stretch out on the bench, face downwards. 

"Before I whip you," he said, I want you to know quite 
clearly that the only reason I am doing this, is so that you 



will the better remember the pain you have inflicted upon the 
birds and other living creatures." 

These were the first and last blows that Yitzchak Saul 
ever received at the hands of his father, and he accepted 
them without a murmur. 

After the whipping, Rabbi Nissan quickly went into an- 
other room without a backward glance, and a moment later 
Yitzchak Saul heard his father crying, deep and painful sobs 
escaping him which he seemed unable to restrain. 

When Yitzchak Saul heard his father sobbing, he realized 
that it was all his fault for having made his father do some- 
thing so contrary to his nature, that is, use the 'cat-o-nine-tails' 
which had always seemed part of the furniture until then, and 
never an instrument of physical punishment. 

This gave the little boy more pain than the actual whip- 
ping, and he determined from that moment, never again to 
hurt anything or anyone! 

He felt the pain a couple of days, and walked about full 
of regret and shame for his misdeeds. On the third day, he 
suddenly went up to his father, kissed his hand, and asked 
him, with tears in his eyes, if he would forgive him. 

Rabbi Nissan's eyes also filled with tears as he said to his 
son tenderly: "My son, you are still a little boy and I, your 
father, have to bear all your sins, which is not quite so serious. 
But it would be dreadful if you grew up to be an unfeeling, 
cruel creature !" 

Yitzchak Saul felt a changed boy; he was so elevated 
since his father's 'lesson*' that he could almost believe it was 
someone else who had perpetrated the sinful cruelties which 
had earned the culprit such a just punishment. During the 
following days and nights, he was haunted by visions of him- 
self as he had been, chasing and persecuting the birds, dogs, 
cats, goats and flies. But gone was his previous pleasure in 
such pastimes, imaginary and actual. Instead, these visions 
filled him with fear and pain, and he knew he could never 
again inflict pain and be cruel. 

From this time onwards, Rabbi Nissan devoted special 



time to teaching his son "Mussar" (Ethics) in addition to his 
regular studies. This made a tremendous impression upon the 
young lad. 


When Yitzchak Saul was eleven years old, his father sent 
him to the Minsk Yeshivah. He became such a zealous student, 
that he earned the nickname "The Harkian Mathmid." (For 
you know he came from Harki). 

Yitzchak Saul was most careful to follow his father's ad- 
vice not to waste time on things of no real value; not to listen 
to gossip nor to indulge in this common weakness himself. 

Rabbi Nissan had also studied in Minsk as a youth, and 
thus had made friends in that city, who now took an interest 
in Yitzchak Saul and kept an eye on him. 

One of these friends was Abraham Aba, a baker, who, 
despite his occupation, was a great scholar. He used to say 
to Yitzchak Saul that unless one's Torah was based upon the 
fear of the Lord and the love of one's fellow-Jews, it was no 
"Torah." He used to take the boy with him to meetings where 
there was a select gathering of scholars, come to discuss 
"Service to the Almighty." 

It was at one of these meetings that Yitzchak Saul made 
the acquaintance of Rabbi Moshe Nissan, one of the "Bat- 
lanim" at the Beth-Hamidrash, a man of simple habits, and 
exceptionally learned. Apart from his thorough knowl- 
edge of Gemorro he was so well-versed in the "Rambam," 
that he knew it all by heart. All week he ate but the 
minimum of simple fare, and on Mondays and .Thursdays he 
fasted altogether. 

In addition to his extensive studies, he devoted a great 
deal of his time to divine service. He used to pray at great 
length and apply himself to the study of "Mussar." He taught 
as well as studied "Mussar," and Yitzchak Saul was one of his 
willing and admiring listeners, being greatly impressed and 
influenced by all he heard. The result was that Yitzchak Saul 



greatly improved in character, and acquired a burning love 
for his fellow-beings! 

When Yitzchak Saul left Minsk and returned to his home- 
town Harki, he continued his studies under Rabbi Azriel 
Joseph, the local preacher, who also, for a period, conducted 
a Yeshivah there. Rabbi Azriel Joseph, together with Rabbi 
Nissan and some others, had paid several visits to the "Baal- 
Shem-Tov," and thus it was that the latter's teachings reached 
Yitzchak Saul too. 

Baruch, who was most interested in studying his friend 
Yitzchak Saul, was very impressed with the interest and 
friendship the latter showed the humble veterinary. It was 
something that nobody else would be likely to do, and he rec- 
ognized that Yitzchak Saul was following a line entirely 

Baruch had always believed that nothing was as impor- 
tant as Scholarship, yet now he was becoming convinced that 
one's actions were more important still. His sympathies were 
drawn even closer to his friend Yitzchak Saul, though he did 
not as yet know that he was heading for the new school of 
thought of Chassidism. 

At the beginning, Yitzchak Saul was not too communica- 
tive about his thoughts and convictions, and he, therefore, 
did not divulge to Baruch the fact that his father Rabbi 
Nissan belonged to the new sect of Chassidim. Nor did he 
tell him that he, Yitzchak Saul, had been brought up by his 
father along these Chassidic lines. 

But as time passed and their friendship grew, Yitz- 
chak Saul felt he could confide in Baruch and be frank with 
him without fear. So he told him all he knew about Chassid- 
ism, that his father was a Chassid, too, and how it had come 

Rabbi Nissan was born in Bobruisk, and when he was 
sixteen years old, he was already one of the outstanding pupils 
of Rabbi Shalom Zvi's Yeshivah in his native town. From 
there he went to Halusk, at which Yeshivah he continued his 
studies for four years, under Rabbi Yechiel. Here he made 
such excellent progress that he was able to enter the Yeshivah 



in Minsk, principalled by the Gaon of Posen, at which Yeshi- 
vah only outstanding scholars were admitted. 

Then Rabbi Nissan married the daughter of a nearby 
villager, recommended to him by the head of his Yeshivah 
in Minsk. 

He lived at the home of his father-in-law in the village, 
for twelve years, spending his time in Torah-study and divine 
service. Then his wife became ill and died, so he returned 
to Minsk where he received a very warm welcome from his 
old teacher Rabbi Yechiel, who had taken over the Headship 
from the Gaon of Posen both at the Yeshivah and Beth-Din. 

Even when Rabbi Nissan was in Minsk during his earlier 
stay, he had heard of a group of scholars who used to meet 
for the purpose of studying Kabbalah. He had taken all pos- 
sible trouble to find out where they were, and after much 
eff ort, managed to be admitted as one of them. Rabbi Yechiel 
was their rabbi. 

Rabbi Yechiel expounded the theory of reincarnation, 
submitting that the souls of all our Tanaim, Amoraim, Geo- 
nim^ and saints of all times, beginning from Adam and includ- 
ing the souls of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs, our Prophets 
and all the others mentioned in the T'nach, Talmud, and 
Zohar, all were reborn and existed in persons living in our 

Thus, he argued, through this reincarnation, there was 
a direct link between the generations of old and those of our 
present day. 

All the members of the group believed that Rabbi Yechiel 
had received this information through the prophet Elijah, who 
had revealed to him the secret as to which souls had been 
reincarnated in people living at the moment. 

Rabbi Nissan had been very greatly impressed by all 
he heard. He was still comparatively a young lad, whilst all 
the other members were married men, this being the rule for 
admission. An exception had been made in his case on the 
recommendation of Rabbi Yechiel who had a very high opinion 
of Rabbi Nissan's mental perception. 

After Rabbi Nissan had married and gone to live in the 



village, he had given up this study of Kabbalah, as Rabbi 
Yechiel had advised him that this study should not be under- 
taken unless under the guidance of an authority. 

Now, returning to Minsk after his twelve years' absence, 
he immediately rejoined the group of "Kabbalists," finding 
that many of them had spread far afield, and many more had 
been added to this group who were studying this secret teach- 

A few months elapsed, and Rabbi Nissan became aware 
that there were amongst the group some members who had 
adopted a new form of divine worship. They did not believe 
that the only way to serve G-d was by devoting all of their time 
to study. Nor did they believe that the correct way to serve 
Him was by afflicting their bodies by prolonged fasting, etc. 

They contended that it would please the Almighty more 
if they were to show Him that they rejoiced in serving Him, by 
doing all His bidding in a joyous rather than a sombre spirit. 
Rabbi Nissan further learned that these members devoted 
much time to prayer, before which they first went to the 

They also made a special point of living simply and mod- 
estly, earning their livelihood by the work of their own hands 
rather than by the rabbinate. 

And even those amongst them who were rabbis, attired 
themselves in ordinary working mens' garb so that they should 
be able to appear amongst the workmen as members of their 

They could then talk freely to these ordinary, uneducated 
people and have them speak freely in return, thus having 
a much better opportunity of teaching them, influencing them, 
and inspiring them to take a greater interest in the Torah 
and its commandments. 

Many of these Chassidim would undertake varying pe- 
riods of exile, dressed like ordinary workers, and travel 
amongst ordinary folk, in order to encourage and elevate them 
to a higher level of thought and way of life. 

Rabbi Nissan was very interested in these particular 



Chassidim, and became rather friendly with them. After a 
short while he, too, was admitted into their circle, learning 
much more of their ways and line of thought. 

Much to his astonishment, Rabbi Nissan now learned that 
the group to which he had attached himself was only one of 
many such, all interconnected, and that the head of all these 
groups was a great Tzadik and wonder-worker, named Rabbi 
Adam Baal-Shem. 

In less than six months, Rabbi Nissan had made himself 
thoroughly conversant with all the teachings of Chassidism, 
as it appeared in its first form. 

This was the Chassidic school of Rabbi Adam Baal-Shem 
from whom Rabbi Israel "Baal-Shem-Tov" later learned the 
way of Chassidism and was crowned as the leader of the new 
movement in Judaism. 




ADAM BAAL-SHEM, mystic; forerunner 
of Rabbi Israel Baal-Skem-Tov 

See HATAMIM, Vol. I (10-22); Vol. 
Ill (17-19); Vol. IV (7-9) 

ALEPJri-BETH, Hebrew alphabet 

ALIYAH, calling -up to the reading of the 

AL KIDDUSH HASHEM, for the sancti- 
fication of G-d's Name 

AM HAARET2, ignoramus (lit. "people 
of the land") 

AMUD, Reader's stand (pulpit) in the 

ATHARAH, crown (adorning the Scroll 
of the Torah, or a T (tills) 

AV (AB), Hebrew month in the late 

AVODAH ZARAH, idolatry; also name 
of tractate in the Talmud, dealing with 
this subject 

AMORAIM, Sages of the Talmud ("in- 
terpreters") who lived after the Mish- 
nah was compiled until the completion 
of the Talmud (ca. 150-500 C.E.) 


BAALE-BATIM, ("house owners"), mem- 
bers of the community 

BAAL-SHEM-TOV, Rabbi Israel, founder 
of Chassidism;* (born Okup, 1698, d. 
Medzibush, 1760) 

BABA-BATHRA, name of a tractate of 
the Talmud 

BABIES, colloq, for the three tractates 
zfa, Baba-bathra 

* See The Line of ChabadChassidic 
Tradition on p, ix. 

BATIM, ("houses"), the square boxes o 
the Tefillin housing the scrolls on which 
the portions from the Torah are inscribed 

BATLAN, a person devoting all his time 
to study, a recluse. (Colloq.: an idler, 

BAR-MITZVAH, status of a full-fledged 

Tradition, page (?) 

Jew reached by a boy at the age of 13 

BERACHAH, a blessing 

BETH-DIN, ("house of law")., Rabbinical 

BETH-HAMIDRASH, ("house of study"), 
synagogue and place of study 

BETH-HAMIKDOSH, the Holy Temple 
in ancient Jerusalem. The first one was 
built by King Solomon and destroyed 
by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon; the sec- 
ond was built by the returning exiles, 
from Babylon and destroyed by Titus 
of Rome (70 C.E.) 

BIMMAH, the dais in the center of the 

BON MOTS, (Fr.) epigram 
BRITH-MILAH, circumcision 

CHABAD, name of the Chassidic philo- 
sophical school and movement, founded 
by Rabbi Sbneur Zalman of Liady; bas- 
ed on the initials of the Hebrew words 
Chochmah (wisdom), Binah (under- 
standing) , Daath (knowledge) 

CHALLAH, Sabbath loaf 

CHAROSETH, paste made out of nuts, 
fruit, and wine, used at the Seder as a 
symbolic reminder of the clay and mor- 
tar used by the Hebrew slaves in Egypt 



CHASSID, ("pious man"), follower of 

CHASSIDISM, the movement founded by 
Rabbi Israel Baal-Shem-Tov 

CHAZAN, Reader or Cantof i thp syns- 

CHEDER, ("room"), school far junior 
boys, preparatory to the Yes&ivat) 

CHEREM, excommunication 
CHEVRAH, society, study-circle 
CHEVRAH-KADISHAH, Burial society 

CHIDDUSHEI-TORAH, original" elucida- 
tions and interpretations in the field of 
Torah study; novellae 

CHOSHEN MISHPAT, fourth volume of 
the "Arba Turim" (The Four Rows), 
written by Rabbi Jacob b$n Ash&r (ca. 
1269-1340); dealing witfc Jwishh civil 
and criminal law 

CHULIN, name of tractate of the Talmud 
CHUMASH, Pentateuch 

DAYAN, ("judge"), apnltr 4*' 4* 


DA WEN, to pray 
DIN, Jewish law 

ELUL, name of Hebrew month, following 

EN-KELOHENU, ("there is none like un- 
to our G-d"), liturgy 

EN YAAKOV, ("Fountain of Jacob"), a 
popular work, representing a compila- 
tion of Haggadic passages from the 
Talmud, compiled by Rabbi Jacob ben 
Solomon ibn Habib (d. HI 6} 

EREV-, ("eve of), the day preceding a 
holy day, e.g. Erev-Shabbos (Friday) 

ERUV TCHUMIN, establishing "legal" 
residence before the Sabbath in order 
to be able to go beyond the permitted 

distance of 2000 cubits. This is done 
by going to the place before the Sab- 
bath or Yom-Tov and depositing some 
food, over which a Beracbah is recited, 
thus establishing there formal residence, 
permitting a further radius of 2000 
cubits from that place. For details see 
Shulchan Arucb, Orach Chayim, pars. 

FRANKISTS, followers of the ill-famed 
movement organized in Poland in the 
18th century by Jacob Frank, a follow- 
er of Sabbathai Zevi. They were op- 
posed to the Talmud and often allied 
themselves with the Catholic clergy in 
their fight against orthodox Jewry. 
Most of the followers eventually em- 
braced Catholicism and the movement 
gradually died out. 

FROOM, religious 

GABBAI, warden 

GAON, genius; title given to an excep- 
tionally brilliant Talmudist 

GEMORRO, that part of the Talmud 
which interprets the Mishnah, and con- 
tain the teachings of the Amoraim 

GOLEM, a man of clay, created and 
animated by the famous Rabbi JudaK 
Leow (MaHaRaL) of Prague (1*13- 
1609), for the purpose of exposing false 
accusations of ritual murder, and ren- 
dering other valuable service for the 
community at the command of its 

GROSHEN, small Polish coin 

HAA2INU, the last but one Sidrah of 
the Pentateuch, containing the famous 
Song of Haazinu, the final admonition 
delivered by Moses before his death, be- 
ginning with the words, "Lend ear, ye 
heavens ..." 

HAGGADAH, ("Narrative"), the Prayer 
Book containing the service for the first 
two nights of Passover 



sbuvab (Repentance), as compiled by 
Maimonides in his famous work Mish- 
neh-Torah or Yad Hachazakah (popu- 
larly known as RaMBaM) 


ILLUY, ("exalted"), title given to an ex- 
ceptionally brilliant young student of 
the Talmud 

IVRI, Hebrew reading 


KABBALAH, ("traditional or transmitted 
teachings"), the teachings and doctrines 
dealing with the "secrets of the Torah" 
and mysteries of the Creation, transmit- 
ted by Mekubalim (scholars of Kabba- 
lah) through the generations. 
The Zohar is one of the basic books of 

the Sabbath*'), prayer recited on Friday 
night in honor of the incoming holy 

KADDISH, prayer for the souls of the 

KASHRUTH, dietary laws 

KEDDUSHAH, ("Holiness"), a prayer re- 
cited in the synagogue during the morn- 
ing and afternoon services, when the 
Reader repeats the Skewone-esrei; the 
principal verse is, "Holy, holy, holy is 
the Lord of Hosts," etc.. 

KIDDUSH, Prayer of Sanctification recit- 
ed on the Sabbath and on Festivals 

KIDUSHIN, name of tractate of the Tal- 
mud dealing with the laws of marriage 

KOHANIM, priests, descendants of Aaron 
the High Priest 

KOL HANEARIM, ("All the Boys"), 
calling up all the boys under the age 
of Bar-Mitzvah to the Torah on Sim- 
chath Torah 

KOSHER, food permitted by the Dietary 

LAMDAN, scholar 

LEKET, ("gleanings*'), the precept to 
leave for the needy fallen ears during 

LEVIATHAN, legendary king of the fish. 
According to the Midrash a male and 
female Leviathan of gigantic propor- 
tions were created on the fifth day of 
Creation. Its flesh was preserved for 
the righteous after the Resurrection of 
the dead. 

LYOZSHNA, or Lyozna, a town in White 
Russia in the District of Mogilev 


MAARIV, Evening Prayer 
MAASER, tithe 
MAGGID, preacher 

MAHARSHAL, the initials of Rabbi Solo- 
mon ben Jehiel Luria (b. Brest-Litovsk, 
1510; d. Lublin, 1573), famed Tal- 
mudist, author of Yam sbel Sblomoh, 
Hochmatb Shlomob, Yerioth Shhmoh, 
and other important works 

MAROR, bitter herbs (usually horse- 
radish) used at the Seder, in memory 
of the bitter enslavement of Israel in 
ancient Egypt 

MATHMID, a very ardent student, a 

MATZOS, unleavened bread; the only 
kind of bread permitted on Passover 

MATZEVAH, tombstone 

MAZZAL-TOV, ("Good Luck"), popular 
greeting or blessing on a happy occasion 

MECHITZAH, partition 

MECHUTAN, relative by marriage, such 
as the parents of the bridegroom to 
those of the bride, and vice-versa. 

MELAMED, teacher of young students 

MENOCHOTH, name of tractate of the 



MERCHATZ, public baths 

MESICHTAH, tractate of the Talmud. 
There are altogether 63 Mesicktotb in 
the Talmud 

MESIFTA, academy of higher Talmud 

MEZUZAH, the sacred scroll affixed on 
the door-posts of a Jewish home, con- 
taining portions of the Shema 

MIDRASH, homilectic explanations of the 
T'enacb by the Tanaim and Amoraim 

MIKVAH, pool for ritual immersion (rit- 

MINCHAH, Afternoon Service 

MINYAN, ("number" or "quorum"), 
congregation of at least ten male wor- 
shippers; also: (coloq.) synagogue 

MISHNAH, the Oral Law, divided into 
Six Sedarim (ShaS), compiled by Rabbi 
Judah Hanassi (ca, 150 C.E.) 

MISNAGDIM, ("opponents"), the early 
opponents of the Chassidic movement 

Schneuri), son of Rabbi Shneur Zal- 
wan of Liady. See Line of Chabad 
Chassidic Tradition, p. IX 

MITZVAH, precept. There are 613 
("TaRYaG") precepts in the Torah, of 
which 248 are positive commands, and 
365 are prohibitions 

MODE ANI, ("I thank Thee"), first 
prayer on arising in the morning 

MODUS VIVENDI, (Lat,), mode of living 

MOREH-MORENU, ("Teacher of our 
Teachers"), a title of especial distinc- 

MUSSAR, ("Ethics" or "admonition"), 
the study of topics on admonition and 


NEDARIM, name of tractate of the Tal- 

"NESHAMAH" CANDLES, candles lit on 
Yom-Kippur or Yahrzeit for the benefit 
of the souls of the departed 

NEZIKIN, ("Damages"), name of the 
fourth of the Six Sedarim of the Mish- 
nah, dealing with civil and criminal 

NISSAN, name of Hebrew month (spring) 

ONEG SHABBOS, "Sabbath delight" 

PARSHIOTH, ("portions"), chapters from 
the Torah, such as those enclosed in 
the Tefillm 

PARUSH, ("recluse"), a scholar and 
pious man, devoting all his time to 
study and worship, and taking little or 
no interest in worldly matters 

PEAH, the precept of leaving a "corner' 
of the field unharvested, which belong 
to the poor and needy 

PESACH, Passover 

PESACHIM, name of tractate of the Tal 
mud, dealing with the laws of Passove 

PIDYON-SHEVUIM, ("ransom of prison 
ers"), the Mitzvah of trying to obtaii 
the release of captives or persons ar 
rested on false charges 

PILPUL, method of Talmudic study, con- 
sisting of examining all arguments pr< 
and con of a given text, often involv- 
ing reconciliation of apparent contra- 
dictory texts. The method is usually a 
means of sharpening the wit and erudi- 
tion of the student 

POALE-TZEDEK, ("righteous workers") 
name often given to congregation oi 
workers who had their own synagogue 

PORETZ, estate owner or nobleman o 
the old feudal system 

POSKIM ("codifiers"), authoritative dc 
cisions in Halachah. The princips 
source is the Shulchan Aruch (see be 



used for washing the deceased, before 
dressing in shrouds for the burial 

PURIM, Feast of Lots, or Feast of Esther, 
taking place on the 14th day o Adar 

RAMBAM, Rabbi Mosheh Ben Maimun 
(Maimonides), famous Talmudist, co- 
difier, philosopher and physician (b. 
Cordova, 1135; d. Fostat, 1204)-, author 
of Mishneb Torab or Yad Hachazakab, 
Sefer Hamitzvoth> Moreb Nebuchtm, 
etc. (See Hilecbotb Tesbuvab, supra) 

RASHI, Rabbi Solomon Yitzchaki, famous 
expounder of the Bible and Talmud^ 
b, Troyes, 1040; d. Troyes, 11 OS) 

RAV, rabbi 

REBBE, rabbi and teacher; leader of a 
Chassidic group 

RESHITH CHOCHMAH, ("Beginning of 
Wisdom"), a book on morals by Rabbi 
Elijah Ben Moshe De Yidas, a Kabbalist 
of the 16th century 

ROSH HASHANAH, Jewish New Year, 
celebrated on the first and second of 
Tisbrei; name of tractate of the Talmud 
dealing with the laws of the festival 

ROSH YESHIVAH, head (dean) of a 

SANHEDRIN, the Supreme Court in an- 
cient Israel, consisting of 71 members; 
name of tractate of the Talmud 

SEDER, ("order"), the home service on 
the first two nights of Passover 

SEFER TORAH, Scroll of the Torah 
SEGULAH, mystical remedy or charm 

SELICHOTH, ("forgivenesses"), prayers 
recited on Fast Days 

SEMICHAH, ("laying of the hands"), 
rabbinical ordination 

SHAALAH, ("question"), a question on 
a point of law referred to a Rabbi for 

"SHAARE-TESHUVAH," ("Gates of Re- 
pentance"), famous work by Rabbi 
Jonah Ben Abraham Gerondi (d. Tole- 
do, 1263) 

SHABBOS, name of tractate of the Tal- 
mud dealing with the laws of Sabbath 

SHABBOS HAGODOL, (The "Great Sab- 
bath"), the Sabbath preceding Passover 

SHACH, initials of the famous Talmudist 
Rabbi Shabse Ben Meir HaCohen, (b, 
Vilna, 1621; d. Holleschau, 1662); au- 
thor of the famous commentary on 
Yoteb Deab, called Siftbe Cohen 

SHACHARITH, Morning Service 
SHADCHAN, marriage broker 

SHALOM ALEICHEM, well known He- 
brew greeting, meaning "Peace Upon 

SHAMASH, beadle 

SHASS, initials of Hebrew words Sbisba 
Sedarim ("Six Orders") of the Misbnab, 
but generally referring to the whole of 
the Talmud 

SHATNES, cloth in which wool and 
linen are intermingled and is forbidden 
to be used 

Shneur Zalman Ben Baruch, famous 
Talmudist, codifier, and philosopher, 
founder of Chabad (b. Lyozshna, 1745; 
d. near Kursk; 1812);* author of 
(Rav*s) Sbulchan Aruch and Tanya, 
and many other works; progenitor of 
the Schneersohn Rabbinic family, lead- 
ers of the Cbabad, known as the "Lu- 
bavitcber Rabbis" Among the Chassi- 
dim he is known as the Old R,abbi t and 
his son as the Mitteler Rabbi. 

The genealogy of Rabbi Shneur Zal- 
man goes back to the MaHaRaL of 
Prague, Rabbi Judab Loew, as follows: 
Rabbi Judah Betzalel Samuel Judah- 
Leib Moses of Posen Shneur Zalman 
Baruch Shneur Zalman of Liady. 

* For further details about his life, work 
and basic teachings, see Rabbi Sbneur 
Zalman of Liady , Kehot Publication Society, 



The MaHaRaL of Prague, in turn, 
traced his ancestry to the Gaonim, de- 
scendant from the royal house of King 

SHEL ROSH, ("of the head"), that part 
of the Tefillin which is put on the head 

SHEL-YAD, ("of the hand"), that part 
of the Tefillin which is put on the 
(left) arm 

SHEMA, ("Hear, O Israel, the Lord our 
G-d, the Lord is One"), liturgy 

SHEVAT, name of Hebrew month 

SHICCHAH, ("forgetting"), the precept 
to leave forgotten sheaves in the field 
during harvest time for the poor and 

SHIUR, a "lesson" or study in Talmud 
or other holy subject 

SHIVAH, the seven days of mourning 
after the death of a close relative 

SHLIACH TZIBUR, ("representative of 
the congregation"), Reader in the syna- 
gogue; see also Cbazan 

SHOFAR, Ram's horn sounded on Rash 
Hasbanah; it was also used at the pro- 
nouncement of a Cher em 

SHOOL, synagogue 

SHOR HABOR, ("wild ox"), gigantic 
legendary animal reserved for the feast 
of the righteous after the Resurrection 
of the dead; see also Leviathan 

SHULCHAN ARUCH, ("Prepared Ta- 
ble"), the authoritative code of Jewish 
law, codified by Rabbi Joseph Caro (b. 
Spain, 1488; d. Safed, 1575). The Shul- 
chan Aruch follows the arrangement of 
the Turim of Rabbi Jacob Ben Asher, 
and is therefore divided into four parts: 
Orach Chayyim, Yoreh Deah, Eben 
Httezer, and Choshen Mis h pat 

SIDRAH, weekly portion of the Torah 
read each Sabbath during the Morning 

SIMCHATH TORAH, the festival of Re- 
joicing with the Torah, celebrated on 
Tishrei 23rd 

SIMCHOTH, ("rejoicings"), feasts or 
celebrations connected with some Mitz- 
vah or happy occasion in the family 

STREIMEL, fur hat usually worn by Rab- 
bis or leaders of Chassidic groups 

SUCCOTH, Feast of Tabernacles, celebrat- 
ed from the 15th to the 22nd of Tishrei 

TAANITH, a Fast; name of a tractate 
of the Talmud 

TAANITH TZIBBUR, a Public Fast, 
either of those in the Hebrew calendar, 
or proclaimed by Rabbinical authority 
on special occasions 

TACHRICHIM, shrouds of white linen 
in which the dead are buried 

TALLIS, praying shawl with four fringes 

TALMUD, the Oral Law, consisting of 
the Six Sedarim of the Mishnah and the 
Gemorro. The Palestinian Talmud was 
compiled by Rabbi Johanan bar Nap- 
paha (about the end of the 3rd century, 
C.E.); the more popular Talmud Babli 
(Babylonian) was compiled and edited 
by Rav Ashi and Ravina (about the 
end of the 5th century, C.E.) 

TALMUD TORAH, school for young stu- 
dents, preparatory for the Yeshivah 

TAMMUZ, name of Hebrew month in the 
middle of summer 

TANAIM, ("teachers"), the Sages of the 
Mishnah, from the time of the Men of 
the Great Assembly to Rabbi Judah 
Hanassi (ca, 350 B.C.E. to 150 C.E.) 

TANYA, famous philosophical work by 
Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liady, in which 
the principles of Chabad are expound- 
ed. The name is derived from the ini- 
tial word of this work. Also called 
Likute Amorim (Collection of Sayings) 

TECHINOTH, ("supplications"), prayers 
intended primarily for women, and writ- 
ten chiefly in Yiddish ("Teitch") which 
became popular in Central Europe in 
the 16th century 

TEFILLIN, Philacteries, made of leather 
boxes (Batim) and straps, consisting of 
the Shel-Yad and the Shel-Rosk 



TEG, (Yid., "days"), the custom of 
providing poor Yeshivah students with 
the meals of a day or several days in 
the week 

TEITCH-CHUMASH, see Tze'eno Ure'eno 
TESHUVAH, repentance 
TILLIM, Book of Psalms 

T'NACH, a word consisting of the initial 
letters of Torah (Pentateuch), "Neviim 
(Prophets) and Chtuvim (Holy Writ- 
ings) , hence, the Bible 

TORAH, the Five Books of Moses; often 
referring to the entire Jewish Law, in- 
cluding the Talmud and other sacred 

TREIFAH, food not in accordance with 
the Dietary Laws and, therefore, for- 

TZADIK, ("righteous"), a very pious 
man; leader of a Chassidic group 

"TZE'ENO URE'ENO," also known as 
Teitch Chumash, Yiddish paraphrase of 
the Pentateuch, Haphtoroth, and Five 
lAegtlloth, with Midrashic explanations 
written by Rabbi Jacob Ben Isaac of 
Janow (16th- 17th cents.) 

T2EMACH TZEDEK, important Halachic 
work of Rabbi Menachem Mendel of 
Lubavitch, (b. Lyozshna, 1789; d. Lu- 
bavitch, 1866). First published in Vilna 
in 1871; published in an enlarged edi- 
tion, including hitherto unpublished 
manuscripts, by Kehot Publication So- 
ciety, Brooklyn, N. Y. in 1946 

TZITZITH, fringes on each of the four 
corners of the Tallis (or Tallis-kattan) 

VERST, (Rus.)j * distance 
about 2/3 of a mile. 


VIDUI, ("confession"), last confessional 
prayer for a dying man 

VOLIKES, (Rus.), felt snow boots worn 
in the cold climate of Russia during 
the winter 

YAHRZEIT, anniversary of the death of 
a near relative, observed by lighting 
Yahrzeit candle, Kaddish, etc. 

YAMIM-NORAIM, the Solemn Days from 
R.osh Hashanah through Yom Kippur 

YESHIVAH, Talmudical academy 
YESHIVAH-BACHUR, Yeskivah student 

YOMA, name of tractate of the Talmud, 
dealing primarily with the laws of Yom- 

YOM-KIPPUR, Day of Atonement, taking 
place on the 10th day of Thhrei 

YOM-TOV, ("Good Day"), Jewish holy 
day, festival 

ZEVACHIM, name of tractate of the 

ZOHAR, ("Brightness"), the principal 
work of Kabbalah, the author of which 
is Rabbi Simeon Ben Yohai, a Tanna of 
the second century. It is arranged after 
the Sidrahs of the Torah, and is written 
in Hebrew and Aramaic; it contains 
commentaries and interpretations of the 
Torah, prayers and customs, profound 
doctrines and teachings concerning the 
purpose of Creation, the human soul, 
and various spiritual aspects of man's 


From the crowded pages of 
this monumental book rises 
the image of an artistic per- 
sonality; a man whose dyna- 
mic power has inspired en- 
thusiastic action on behalf of 
Torah-true Judaism wherever 
his word and pen has reached. 

A brief introductory chap- 
ter acquaints the reader of 
this inspiring book with the 
personal data, the life, works, 
and writings of its author, 
one of the great leaders of 
world Jewry in the last 

Nissan Mindel, noted au- 
thor and scholar, has done 
a remarkable job at rendering 
the deeply inspiring reminis- 
cences of Rabbi Joseph I. 
Schneersohn into a flowing, 
easy-to-read English, without 
losing the flavor and char- 
acter of the original text. 


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